At the Glen Urquhart School in Beverly, students are learning the true meaning of farm to table by growing vegetables and then feeding the hungry. In conjunction with The Food Project, the K-8 North Shore school has developed a greenhouse curriculum, a multidimensional, educational approach to science, nutrition, environmentalism and public service.
From kindergarten through eighth grade, students spend a portion of their academic year in the school’s 7000-foot greenhouse, growing vegetables from seedling. During this time, they learn about climate, aquaculture, ecosystems, botany and their own place in the food system. How the students contribute to their school’s greenhouse depends on their grade level. Third-graders focus on cabbage plants using their in-school compost for fertilization. A school-wide recycling program includes a compost bucket in every GUS classroom. Simultaneously, the seventh-graders plant onion and beet seedlings, hoe beds for future seedlings and learn about the pros and cons of a global, industrial food system.
In addition to running workshops for students, The Food Project, an organization in Eastern Massachusetts that teaches youth and adults how to create a sustainable food system, utilizes the GUS greenhouse to shelter seedlings for replanting at one of The Food Project’s local farms. This results in over 40,000 pounds of vegetables for The Food Project to distribute to local food pantries and to sell through their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs and at farmers’ markets.
GUS students help plant the seeds, transplant the seedlings, and harvest the vegetables as they learn about helping others who may be less fortunate than themselves. Glen Urquhart School is teaching the students to pay attention to the food on their plates and how to produce food in an environmentally conscious way. As students tend their greenhouse year round, they are learning these lessons from seedling.