Click photo to enlarge
Steven John, Superintendent of Schools at Windham Central Supervisory Union sings with students at NewBrook Elementary school during Harvest Dinner & Art Show.

NEWFANE >> Thursday, Nov. 19, families, students and faculty of the NewBrook Elementary gathered in the school's gymnasium for their third annual Harvest Dinner & Art Show.

On display on the left side of the room were several colorful, giant circles that resembled dinner plates, filled with different media made by the students. The far wall titled, W.O.W, wonderful original work of art, included a diverse range of art pieces made by other NewBrook children. The wall near the entrance displayed paper painted pumpkins and a purple mural made by the second through fourth graders.

"It's nice to be able to make this room very vibrant and see the community come together," said NewBrook Elementary art teacher, Suzanne Paugh.

The Farm-to-School committee and Parent Teacher Organization co-organized the annual event. The Farm-to-School committee seeks to connect students with their food by growing and harvesting their own food as well as engaging with the local community. According to the NewBrook Elementary website, the PTO "strives to build a strong sense of community within our school and to provide enriching experiences for all students."

To gong with the student artwork displayed throughout the building, several different kinds of soups were made and presented by the students, faculty and community members, along with 18 loaves of bread from Bread from the Earth as well as donated items from Grafton Cheese, Dutton Berry Farm and the NewFane Creamery.


"It's been really wonderful for my students, we've grown food in the garden and then we harvest it and make a big soup every year for this event," said Heather Sperling, K/1 teacher and coordinator for the Farm-to-School program at NewBrook Elementary. "A lot of the students in the school contributed, either by cooking with vegetables from the school garden or making the signs. Once again it's bringing awareness to where our food is coming from and showing gratitude for that."

Parents sat with their little ones while enjoying their meals. Others entered a chance to win a list of prizes in both the raffle and/or silent auction. Some of the raffle items included 12 day passes to the gym at Stratton, a sunflower bird feeder, a homemade sprout kit, sunflower seeds from the NewBrook Elementary garden, two dozen eggs from a Newfane farmer and Principal Scotty Tabachnick's son, Graham. Silent auction items included two one night stays the Four Columns Inn, a bowl from Z Pots, local gelato, a basket from Amazing Planet Farm and many other goodies from local businesses.

"All the money from the raffle and silent auction will go toward our kitchen renovations and expansion project, which may allow us to process more local food for our meal program here," said Emily Bullock, counselor and Farm-to-Committee member at NewBrook Elementary.

The kitchen renovations may also include installing a dish washer, seeing as though all of the school dish items are currently washed by hand. Other improvements might include investing in metal silverware.

"We would like to move away from plastic utensils and get our own silverware so we are not adding to the landfill," said Bullock.

In addition to the free food and art displays, the students sang two or three songs with NewBrook Elementary's music teacher, Kate Ullman.

"The kids are really use to music, so they just assume we'll sing whenever we have an event like this," said Ullman. "Like they say, music is the universal language."

Some kids and parents danced and listened to live music by Bada Raga, an Indian genre through a Vermont perspective. Band members, Joel Eisemkramer and Jed Blume play the tubla, a set of drums and the Indian slide guitar, which is a 20 string instrument that is played flat on the lap with finger picks and a steel bar. Bada Raga played a mix of original compositions as well as traditional Indian pieces.

"The idea of Indian music is to always illicit feeling, the idea of rasa," said Eisemkramer. "So kids are especially tuned in to that."

Blume added that he thought their music brought an exotic appeal to the students.

"We're playing instruments that many kids have never heard before and probably a style that is very foreign to many of them."

Principal Scotty Tabachnick mentioned his immense gratitude to community members and contributors, and felt that annual event was yet again a success.

"I think our farm-to-school committee has worked really hard in order to focus our children on the things that really matter, which to me, is cleaning up after yourself, eating good food, supporting the local economy and being proud of where you're from."