2021.11.Cross-Pollination Gathering for School Garden Coordinators(1).jpg

Garden coordinators enjoy the outdoors. 

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BRATTLEBORO — Garden coordinators from five Windham County Farm to School programs gathered at Guilford Central School for a Cross-Pollination event in late October.

Garden coordinators, often somewhat isolated in their roles, had the opportunity to share ideas, challenges and successes with each other as they prepare for winter activities in the classroom.

More and more area schools have hired garden coordinators in recent years, finding that they are key to a thriving Farm to School program. In addition to taking care of the gardens with help from students and volunteers, they plan gardening and cooking activities to boost involvement in Farm to School programming.

Sarah Rosow, Guilford’s garden coordinator since 2018, hosted the event, showing the visitors the school’s three garden areas, outdoor classrooms, and concluded with a group discussion.

Coordinators talked about useful equipment for cooking outdoors, curriculum guides and sample lessons. Everyone was inspired by Sarah’s snacking garden, where students are able to snack freely on mint, cherry tomatoes, and adorable cukamelons growing on her archway.

As they toured the campus, garden coordinators discussed their roles at their schools and what makes their programs unique. While Guilford’s program excels at innovative outdoor teaching, Mandy Walsh of Westminster Center School offered the details of her Farm and Field Day — an event three years in the making, where students participate in six different Farm to School stations.

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Kathy Cassin of Academy School spoke about her after-school cooking and gardening club while also gathering ideas about deterring the deer that had been eating all of the school’s greens. “That’s good to know, because it’s been so frustrating losing our greens,” Cassin remarked, after hearing that Walsh had success with growing a border wall.

Erica Frank, a registered dietician at Central Elementary in Bellows Falls, attended. She spoke about the value of getting kids involved in cooking.

Amy Duffy, the new garden coordinator at NewBrook Elementary, agreed. “Giving kids a little more control over their eating then leads to better choices.” Duffy also shared that she works with each grade once per week.

Sarah Rosow responded, “I’d like to pick Amy’s brain a little more in terms of the scope and sequence, and also just learning how she works in every grade level every week and how she manages that because I’d like to move toward that model.”

Food Connects, a food nonprofit and the coordinating organization, said it looks forward to hosting more Cross-Pollination events for garden coordinators.