Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Winter Farmer on Site

   The days are getting colder (well, maybe it doesn’t feel that way right now, but it’s coming!), the darkness is reaching its peak, and the garden beds were put to rest well over a month ago. As we wait for the snow to fly, though, Laraway school students are still engaging with the garden in a different way through our Winter Farmer on Site (FOS) program. FOS winter edition is held every other week from November through April in a cozy yurt and features a different theme during each class. Thus far, students have discussed the makings and benefits of compost, dug their hands into different soil types, and created their own garden plans using colored pencils and collages. Each FOS integrates a variety of learning opportunities tailored to multiple engagement styles. We use game play, storytelling, writing, mathematics, hands on activities, and sharing circles to engage with the diverse learning styles of our students. And we have lots of fun!

Digging in the compost and looking for critters!

During our soil unit, students and staff had a "Soil Shimmy Shakedown" that consisted of passing a jar of soil and water around while busting a move to T-Swifts "Shake It Off". The results? A great visual of the different layers soil consists of- clay, silt, and sand.

Students and staff got creative with ideas for next years garden and drew up/collaged their own garden plans.

Article and photos by Ginny Cooke, Land Stewardship Americorps VISTA. 

Ho Ho Ho....Laraway School's Holiday Shop is open

      Laraway School hosts a holiday store each December containing new and gently-used items donated by staff and community members.  Items are creatively displaced as they would be in a traditional retail space.  Laraway "Elves"---teachers wearing holiday caps---stand at the ready to help students choose and wrap presents for members of their family.  There's something for everyone...a doll for a little sister, new socks for a caregiver, a coffee mug for grandpa.  Each youth leaves school with an assortment of beautifully wrapped presents for family members.
     Holidays can be a particularly challenging time for young people who've experience trauma and/or loss.  What is supposed to be a happy time can conjure memories of sadness.  At Laraway, we celebrate the holiday season in a quieter, low-key sort of way...shining a small light as winter, the time of less light, approaches.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Vermont Harvest of the Month

   How do you get kids to eat their veggies? By giving them a fun and tasty introduction of course! Laraway School has pledged to be part of the Vermont Harvest of the Month program, which highlights a different piece of produce each month and encourages schools to feature the produce through taste tests, games, cooking demonstrations, and educational activities. Over 300 schools, food markets, organizations, restaurants, and hospitals have pledged in this state-wide initiative. In November, Kale was introduced at the first Farmer On-Site of the month. Students passed around a paper bag filled with the leafy green and were asked to use one adjective to describe what they felt (or smelled!)- no peeking! After the bag had been passed around in each group, the descriptive words were looked over and the guessing began. A short talk on the nutritional value of kale, the different varieties, and potential ways to cook with it followed. At lunch that day, students got to try a Kale Pesto recipe that a youth in Laraway's Substitute Care Program whipped up. When asked what students thought of the kale pesto, the response included words like "tasty", "delicious", "yummy", and quite a few thumbs up. The month of December features Winter Squash, which was unveiled paper bag guessing game style this past week at Farmer On-Site, with taste tests and educational posters in the cafeteria to follow. We are looking forward to promoting Harvest of the Month this upcoming year and connecting our youth to new, nutritious, and tasty produce!

What's in the bag?

Kale Pesto display with Harvest of the Month poster.

Article by Ginny Cooke, Land Stewardship Americorps VISTA; photos by Ginny Cooke and Cornelius Murphy, Land Steward.