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The Rangeley School garden is awakening. School Garden coach, Laura Hoeft, has visited our school twice already and shared gardening knowledge, planting seeds, making seed tape, and transplanting cold hardy crops. Located on the playground, our school garden is mostly used by the elementary students, but interest from Middle School teachers as well as the high school’s focus on food as a theme this year has fueled an excitement around growing things. We are pleased to share that the Rangeley School has been the recipient of two Maine Ag in the Classroom(MAITC) grants in the past two years as well as continued involvement with the ReadME program.
School garden coach Laura Hoeft helping fourth graders transplant tomato seedlings.
In the spring of 2021, we received a grant for improving our watering of the school garden. With much help and advice from Paul and Leslie of Fixit Farm, we installed four barrels to collect rainwater from the roof of the portable classroom and drip irrigation hoses and a pump necessary to run the system. A timer allowed for ½ hour of watering each day and the garden thrived. Some of this, no doubt, due to Leslie’s help enhancing the soil and adding worms. In the fall, students harvested tomatoes, onions, carrots, potatoes, kale, dry beans and squash. They made stone soup, salsa, and pizza sauce. These activities were done in classrooms with teachers scurrying around to find cutting boards, knives etc. to process the vegetables.
Rolling kitchen cart being put to use.
Since there is only one student cooking space in our school, which also acts as a classroom, when MAITC offered another round of grants, we set our sights on a cooking cart. This could be wheeled into the classroom and used for cooking. The intent was to support more opportunities for students to learn about their food and share the fun of cooking. The grant was awarded this winter and the cart has been outfitted and is ready to roll into any classroom. It has a blender, crock pot, measuring cups, mixing bowls, salad spinner, cutting boards, and knives (both metal and plastic). Already, the cart has been used in middle school Social Studies to support a mummification study where students learned the process of preparing an apple for its afterlife. Other groups have baked cookies, Kindergarten students used the blender to make smoothies to celebrate their exploration of letter blends, and in May, the cart has been used by Foster Tech Center when they worked with our middle school students learning culinary skills such as fruit salad, mousse, and fresh salsas and guacamole.
PreK students readying the soil for planting.
Finally, the preK – fourth grade teachers all received a copy of the book Tomatoes for Neela by Padma Lakshmi. This was offered from MAITC as part of a ReadME program, a program that highlights a different aspect of agriculture which has ties to Maine. Other years, the books have focused on potatoes, dairy, fish, maple syrup, apples and the farming cycle. Teachers could read the book themselves or invite a guest reader to their classrooms. Along with the book, each class received a packet of tomato seeds and these were planted before April break. A grow light, located in the cafeteria, allowed all students to watch as the seedlings sprouted and grew. The tomatoes are growing well, and will be sent home closer to when they
Gardening can connect so many subjects from math, history, science, humanities, literacy to physical health. We are so grateful to the Agriculture License plate program which helps provide funds for Maine Ag in the Classroom. We all await the earth’s awakening and new growth that happens as the ground thaws, and brings us new ways to learn.
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