Vermont School Garden

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

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One More Planting Before Winter Sets In—GARLIC

friends working together                                                                                    Nola and Maya separating garlic cloves.Garlic is inWe raked the straw that was still on our garden paths and recycled it to cover the garlic bed. We decided the straw was like the sheet for the winter and snow, soon to follow would be the ‘comforter’ for the garlic cloves sleeping under it. We’ll harvest the garlic in mid July.

The first trick learned when planting garlic is how to separate those little cloves from the “momma” bulb.  A supportive friend is helpful. But if you’re a budding farmer like Sabin, not yet five, you can figure this out in a snap! Sabin’s mom, Amy Rice Sciacca, has really given us support for next year’s garlic crop. First she bagged up 25 gallons of her horse manure. Then she and her kids  gave up a horse ride on a beautiful fall day and, instead came over to help us plant!

Sabin separating cloves

Sabin separating cloves

planting together 2

As our dear friend, Claudia McCarthy  taught us years ago, horse manure and a nice raised bed that looks a lot like a chocolate cake are the best ingredients for growing a good crop of garlic.  After planting cloves about 6 inches apart and covering them  over with soil, she always spread a thin cover of mulch straw. Her methods have never failed us.

planting together

a hand span apart

don't cover yet

now you can cover


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Putting Our Garden to Bed for the Winter

garden to bed 11We grew some mighty bigarden to bed 4g sunflowers this year. They were tough to haul over to the compost pile, but the After School Program kids had a blast helping to clear the garden for tilling next week. They were asked to pull up as many plants as they were old, but most stayed on for the joy of running around in our garden! Look at their earnest hard working expressions.

garden to bed 1      garden to bed 3

garden to bed 7garden to bed 6garden to bed 9



garden to bed 10








Getting darker now……..but still hard at work!

garden to bed 12


grden to bed 5       sleep well garden

Sleep well, garden.












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Roasting Our Fall, 2013 Potatoes with Grade 2

cutting potatoes 2Do you remember planting these potatoes last May? Can you explain the life cycle of a potato? How do you think these potatoes will change when we put them in the oven to roast? These were some of the concepts second grade students were mulling over as they focused all of their visual attention on the sharp knives they were permitted to use for  cooking chemistry class. Just before the potatoes went into the oven, students discussed how they thought the baking would change the potatoes. One student’s idea was that the heat would turn them into a regular french fry shape. Why not?

After the diced potatoes were dipped in  olive oil, salt and vinegar, they were roasted briefly at a 450 degrees. Very soon (15 minutes, tops) they were ready to take out of the oven. Students gobbled them up for snack without one speck of ketchup. When I brought the roasted potatoes to class from the kitchen, their teacher, Ms. Beaudry-Torrey was showing a very cool kids’ website  on the smartboard. You may want to look it over at

cutting potatoescarefully cutting





taste testone of two potatoes to try

one of two marinades


look at what you're cutting

responding to cooking potatoes

POTATO response sheet

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Kale is King…….or Queen of November

Our kitchen chef, Kim Kinney, using frosted celery in soups.

Our kitchen chef, Kim Kinney, using frosted celery in soups.

Our 150 feet of beautiful celery was used for all school snacks until recently. One brisk sunny morning chef, Kim Kinney, took a walk out to the garden after a hard frost and harvested what was left to flavor soup for lunchtime…….terrific display of Yankee Ingenuity! “No one will know it was frozen when I put it in the soup,” she said, matter-of-factly.

Later that day a group of After School “chefs” created a massaged kale salad. Kale is the only crop still happily growing in our school garden this late in the season. We hope to continue harvesting it for a few more weeks. This group was happy to get going, de-ribbing the kale and tearing the leaves into bite sized pieces. They shared bowls for massaging the fibers of the kale into an edible salad. The addition of lemon juice also helps to break down fibers. With a bit of olive oil, soy sauce, some sunflower seeds, chunks of fresh orange and a little finely sliced onion this recipe becomes a yummy nutritious salad. (See recipe below.)

After School students (even the ones not cooking) helped devour as much as we made! Click on any image to enlarge.

Kale still growing oct.massaging kale saladteamworkgloves for massagingtimed turnsolder diced onionsgroup kale effort

Giving out kale saladnot so bad taste testI love kale salad

1 lb. kale (de-ribbed and cut into 1” sq. bits)
Roast or Raw:
¼ c. raw sunflower seeds
¼ c. raw sesame seeds
¼ c. raw pumpkin seeds (Irene left out the pepitos)
Slice and Measure:
½ onion sliced thinly
1/6 c. Braggs or soy
1/3 c. lemon
1/3 c. olive oil
Combine and massage above ingred. for 10 min.
Add any:
avocado chunks
pomegranate seeds
fennel slices
clementines or orange chunks