Vermont School Garden

A visit to a Vermont public school garden through the seasons.


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planting squash 3 sisters

The fourth graders got an early start to planting their fall crop last week. They met their new teachers and they laid the groundwork for a study of the native american three sisters garden. Teamwork will be one of the important curriculum umbrellas for their fifth grade teachers next year and interdependence is one of the overriding themes of ‘ three sisters” growing practices. In three rows with nine hills in each row, teams of students planted corn, squash and beans. Next year they’ll discover the relevance of this planting and perhaps see it as a metaphor for learning together! In the meantime, we have to keep the weeds from overtaking the new corn bean and squash plants.

Planting celery gr 5

grade 1 and 6 plant potatoesK hands planting squashThe entire Westminster Center School came out to plant their crop for next year on May 31st. Each class got a lesson from our incredible sponsor farmer, Paul Harlow, who has led this planting day ritual for 25 years! He often interjected a math problem for students to solve. In this case, there were 150 celery plants in the tray he was holding. If each row were 75 feet long and the plants needed to be spaced 12 inches apart, how many rows could be planted from that tray of celery plants? Each time a problem was posed, a hush fell on the circle of students. You could almost hear them computing. If they weren’t the ones who came up with the correct answer, students definitely got a good sense of how much math computation is involved in farming. Squash needed to be planted 2 feet apart. How many inches was that? Show an approximate foot with your hands. How can you measure eight inches with your hand span?

Sixth grade students will not be harvesting next fall. We’ll miss them as they go on to middle school elsewhere. They helped the first graders plant a crop of potatoes. I want to give the sixth graders an opportunity to leave behind a memory of the garden written on flags that will fly from our tomato stakes this summer. Many of these students have been cultivating our garden since they were in Kindergarten.

The basil that was started from seed in our After School Program and transplanted into recycled milk containers by our fourth grade was planted by fourth graders in our kitchen garden.

Popcorn will again  be on the weekly school snack menu next year, thanks to plantings done with the third grade class on planting day! Second graders planted tomatoes. Some will be used in our salad bar at lunchtime next fall. Roma tomatoes will be used to make sauce for science/cooking classes.

Early in  the day, one of our wonderful Kindergarten teachers, Valerie Kosednar, led us in the traditional song, ” Oats Peas Beans and Barley Grow.” Do you or I or anyone know how oats, peas, beans and barley grow?

Planting basil grade 42nd plant tomatoes

Popcorn planting lesson


Author: vermontschoolgarden

I have been an elementary teacher at the Westminster Center School for 30 years. For most of those years, I maintained a garden as part of my teaching curriculum resource. Now I am the Garden Coordinator for all of the Westminster Center School classrooms.

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