What our students said:
"I'm thankful for the fun games we have played together, and all the laughter."
"I enjoyed spending time outside, digging my hands in the soil."
"I'm thankful for the hard work we put in, and all the fresh veggies we got out of the garden."
"I think the raspberry bushes were my favorite."
Harvest Fest, a three-day extravaganza celebrating our relationship with the land, returned for its third year. Laraway staffer Jess McCoy spearheaded the event which was held at our Johnson campus on October 19th, 20th and 21st.
"I think it's important for staff and students to connect with nature and our beautiful natural environment right out of the back door," McCoy said. "It's always beneficial for students to work with their hands, and to see a sense of return in their work and process."
Harvest Fest offered a full schedule of activities for students to engage in. Preparing our gardens and orchard for winter rest included pruning trees and planting garlic deep in fertile soil. We'll be repaid by tree blossoms in spring and garlic scapes for eating in summer.
Students pressed fresh cider, gleaned from neighbors' orchards, repaying their generosity with a quart of the sweet stuff. They even set up a "Free and donations welcomed" cider table at the top of our driveway along Route 15, giving locals and leaf peepers a chance to bring home a fresh half gallon.
School teams traveled to Valley Dream Farm in Cambridge where---as a community service activity---they picked and packaged 72 bunches of kale. This proved a great way to demystify this super-healthy, sometimes underappreciated leafy green.
"I learned that, even though I would prefer to work on a dairy farm, all farmers work very hard to be successful," one of our students said.
Laraway offered a Harvest-themed obstacle course, cider donuts and a seasonal poem read by Greg Stefanski, our Executive Director. Students worked with land steward staff to harvest turnips and potatoes from our gardens. They then headed to our campus kitchen to wash, cut and cook their veggies, transforming them into healthy and hearty "fries."
Not to be outdone, Laraway's cafeteria staff prepared a special harvest meal featuring items from our garden. The menu included butternut squash soup, roasted vegetable stew, homemade carrot cake and loads of veggies in the salad bar. Throughout the growing season, kitchen staff incorporated hundreds of pounds fresh picked veggies.
Harvest Fest truly is a chance to connect our students to the land, to the food they eat, and to the fun activities that define autumn in Vermont.