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What’s Growing On? August 2022 News from Grow Education

by: Adam Davenport, Grow Education Program Manager

Before I started working with Grow Education and caring for the garden beds across New Bedford, I paid little attention to the weather unless I was planning a beach day or an event.  But now, and especially during a drought, checking the weather forecasts are always top of mind. Like farmers across our region, Grow Education with assistance from our FoodCorps members, are in full swing, cultivating, watering, harvesting and replacing plants in school gardens across the city that have succumbed to the dry conditions.

Weather and climate were also a hot topic during recent Professional Development (PD) workshops that were held at Round the Bend Farm in South Dartmouth. On August 10th, we worked with an amazing group of teachers and administrators from Westport’s Elementary School. This PD day was the first step in our year-long partnership to bring a Farm to School project to Westport!  Using Round the Bend Farm (RTB) as the setting for our PD days is ideal for a variety of reasons. Teachers are able to bring what they learn about on the farm into their classroom, connect it to their curriculum and learn about the vast agricultural resources in our region.  Some notable takeaways connected the dots between food waste and composting, seeing the way RTB is feeding their pigs, which in turn supported soil development. These explorations led into diving deeper into what makes healthy soil, and how the soil contributes to the nutrient density of the vegetables we eat!  This full day of learning on the farm prior to the start of school sets the stage for a rich year of planting new seeds and supporting the growth of young minds!

Early this fall, a garden will be built and a Farm to School Action plan will be envisioned with Westport’s school staff.  Grow’s academic programming will then roll out with fall and spring planting days, winter workshops, and monthly lesson plans. We will work alongside Westport staff to make sure that the garden we build can be used as an outdoor classroom, used by a variety of teachers and subjects.

On a separate day in August, New Bedford Public Schools joined us for their third consecutive year of PD at Round the Bend. This year’s group of educators consisted of third-grade teachers from the final 7 out of 19 Elementary schools across the district. Over the past three years, over 65 teachers have completed our Grow Education training. Each of them now has a school garden on their grounds to use for continued experiential learning with their students. We will be directly supporting this year’s group of teachers with our garden workshops and programming, while also planning for long-term sustainability district-wide for the garden’s planting and maintenance. Our Food Corps members are helping us on this end, continuing to teach classes in the garden, conduct taste tests in the classrooms, and supporting us in creating new lesson plans specific to New Bedford and Farm to School topics!

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