By Francie Lin, GFN Writer-in-Residence I think everyone would rather forget the early pandemic days…
In the last few weeks Grow Food Northampton has had the pleasure of welcoming 14 classes from elementary schools in the area!
Grow Food Northampton welcomed 440 students in June, from kindergartners to third graders, to explore and learn about the Community Garden and the Giving Garden. The schools who participated include Leeds Elementary, Bridge Street Elementary, RK Finn Ryan Road School, and Jackson Street Elementary of Northampton and Center & Pepin Elementaries and Maple Elementary of Easthampton.
Students laughed and had tons of fun while picking lettuce and spreading compost, some doing it for the first time. They learned that their efforts would help grow thousands of pounds of food for families in need. The children also learned about edible plants in the Medicine Garden, where they tasted lemon balm and mint! To wrap up the field trip, students gathered and spoke about what they enjoyed most during their trip.
During an event honoring late Representative Peter Kocot that took place during one of the field trips, Bridge Street kindergartners picked weeds with Massachusetts Representatives and their own school superintendent and mayor! Read more about this event here.
Each group would visit different stations such as spreading compost, watering plants, and picking lettuce, allowing students to explore different aspects of gardening. All of the kids loved weeding!
A special part of the field trip was the Giving Garden sign, where kids each painted a picture of something that could be found in or around a garden. This sign will be displayed in the Giving Garden.
One of the leaders, Ellena Baum, believes that field trips to the Community Garden and Giving Garden are very beneficial to children. “It is important for kids who spend most of the day inside, to have fun outside.” She mentioned that the students were able to see the seasonal changes in the garden since they visited in the Fall of this past school year. “They got a chance to participate in the garden and all work together and get their energy out and try tasty things and different kinds of herbs and fruits that were ripe and that they probably would not have otherwise had on their plate at home.”
Students were encouraged to bring their families back during the summer to visit the Giving Garden and to take a scenic walk through the Community Garden to enjoy the beauty of flowers, fresh produce, and community! Grow Food Northampton is grateful for funding from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Bunny Rattner Foundation that has helped make the field trips possible.