Grow Food Northampton is growing once again! Our education program will have a stronger presence in Northampton elementary schools this year and now has a new name: Grow Food Kids! As always, our goal is to help children become more engaged food citizens who know where their food comes from and how to prepare healthy meals.
Our field trips and classroom workshops will serve each of the four elementary schools in Northampton: Leeds, Ryan Road, Jackson Street, and Bridge Street. Field trips are set to begin in October with students visiting Crimson and Clover Farm. We expect to offer at least 15 field trips in the fall and 15 in the spring, each with over 40 students!
This year’s biggest change grew from strong support from Northampton teachers and administrators. Grow Food Kids will be in each school one day per week, November to May, delivering 2-3 cooking workshops per day. Beloved past workshops have included Rainbow Salad, Applesauce and Kale Chips. By having scheduled days in each school, we will serve many classrooms that have never taken advantage of our programs before, and we will serve each classroom more times than in the past. At Bridge Street School, for example, we have typically done no more than five in-class workshops per year. This year we expect to offer as many as 45 workshops at Bridge Street! This exponential growth is due to the change in our scheduling model and the support of Principal Beth Choquette. With similar support at all the schools, we will deliver well over 150 workshops this school year.
We are pleased that Ellena Baum is now our Local Food Educator. Ellena came to Grow Food Northampton in the summer of 2017 as our TerraCorps Land Stewardship Coordinator and manager of our Giving Garden. We are excited that Ellena is taking on this new role. She will lead the delivery of our field trips and in-class workshops, and the be face of Grow Food Kids in the schools. On her excitement for the upcoming year and her new position, Ellena said:
“It’s so much fun to spend time with the kids in different contexts throughout the year- through field trips on the farm in the fall, in their own classrooms in the winter, and in the community garden in the spring. They become familiar with who we are, and what we’re all about.”
Both field trips and in-class workshops will build opportunities for social and emotional learning; use the senses and curiosity as tools for exploration; engage students in learning through play and work; align with curricular standards; and immerse students in place. Additionally, we are happy to coordinate with the Northampton Public Schools’ Food Services Director to reinforce the schools’ participation in Harvest of the Month and create connections between our workshops and what’s being served in the cafeterias. Although our focus is on delivering the best possible experience for Northampton K-3 classrooms, we will offer opportunities to older children and schools in neighboring communities when we have the capacity to do so.
This program is strengthened by funding from the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education thanks to the support of the late Rep. Kocot and Rep. Scibak, as well as The Bunny Rattner Foundation.