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Issue No. 1
October 2011
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Growing and Learning 

In This Issue
Take Our Survey
News and Notes
October is National Farm to School Month
Grow Some Green for Your Garden

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"Connecticut's kids are rich in knowledge but experientially impoverished.  They can search the internet and find a wealth of global facts.  But, are we preparing them for life skills that are best taught by experience?  What is more important than learning to eat nutritious and balanced diets, exercise, and outdoor activities?  Clearly, school gardens can benefit our kids on many levels.  Let's get one growing at each of our Connecticut schools!"
 Terry Jones, CT Board of Education

Welcome to the inaugural issue of Growing and Learning, a resource for all who would like to see more school gardens (and farms) in Connecticut's schools.

Our goals are:

*To strengthen the school garden and farm movement in Connecticut by connecting teachers, students,      

   volunteers and organizations involved in school gardens and farms.

*To share best practices and curricula among practitioners of school based garden work.

*To increase the visibility of school gardens and farms in Connecticut.

*To work toward a garden in every school, a school farm in every town and agriculture and food education   

   throughout the curriculum.

 

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Terry Jones is a farmer (Jones Family Farms, Shelton) and a long-time CT NOFA member.  As chair of the
Working Lands Alliance, he has fostered what he calls "fierce cooperation" among members of Connecticut's food and agriculture community to successfully push the state to protect more farmland.  Terry is also the Vice President of the CT Agricultural Experiment Station's Board of Control.  But Terry's most exciting position may be as a new appointee on the State Board of Education.

 

Terry speaks fondly of his meeting with Governor Malloy to discuss the Board of Education appointment.  Terry was willing to take that on, if he could have the Governor's attention regarding agriculture and education.  Turns out, the Governor also wants to get more local food and agriculture into schools.  "The Governor gets it," Terry said.

 

Terry is also very excited about the new Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, who was involved with innovative food and agriculture projects in Newark, NJ.

 

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Last week, at a meeting of Connecticut's food and farming leaders, the Farms, Food and Jobs Working Group, Terry said that the schools of Connecticut provide a good path to achieving the Group's goal - that is, a significant increase in the consumption of Connecticut Grown food in order to grow agriculture, create relevant jobs, and improve the health of Connecticut residents, especially children. Terry includes getting local food into the school cafeterias, creating more school gardens, and getting food and agriculture into school curricula among his interests.  (Those three broad categories are all called Farm to School, according to the national farm to school program, celebrating farm to school this October - see below.)

 

All this indicates an important window of opportunity for our work with school gardens.

 

Hopefully, this newsletter and the school garden resource page will help Connecticut's teachers, students, parents, community organizations, and volunteers increase the number of school gardens and their effectiveness as contexts for learning.

 

We thank Green Village Initiative for supporting this work. 

 

Bill Duesing 


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Take oursurvery clip art survey!

To get things rolling with our School Garden Network, we have compiled a short survey to see where we are starting  from and where we need to go.  Please take a moment to answer these few questions.  Your feedback will help us create a vibrant and strong network. 

 

 

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School Gardens - the hot...old thing? 

School gardens seem to be the new trend recently, but they actually have a long history, going as far back as 1545, and spreading slowly through Europe during the next few centuries.  They enjoyed a proliferation in the nineteenth century,where the prevalent
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Kindergarten in the vegetable garden
views regarding fresh air and physical activity, as well as the interest in the study of nature, encouraged the growth of the school garden concept.  By 1914, the government realized the potential of these gardens and created the Office of School and Home Gardening.  World War I saw the flourishing of school gardens, and led to the creation of the US School Garden Army.  Watch this short history of school gardens from the Library of Congress, complete with some great photos.  (Be sure to check out some of the resources that the Library of Congress offers too!)

  

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School Garden, New York

The Connecticut Post touches on some of the history of school gardens in this article about collectible posters.

More recently, the idea of school gardens as a method of teaching has begun to gain renewed interest. School gardens started to appear again in the last two decades, fueled by environmental concerns and the awareness of issues such as pesticides in foods, GMOs, and the growing disconnect between us and the knowledge of where our food comes from.  In the last few years, the concept of gardens, as an educational tool and as a way to re-connect us to our food, has gained real momentum, with the establishment of gardens at many schools around the state, at all levels - elementary, secondary, and at colleges and universities. 

Here's to their continued growth!
 
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Barnard School, New Haven
 
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Bridgeport School Garden

 

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Bridgeport School Garden  

  

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News and Notesnews boy
 
Grow New Haven, a group dedicated to putting a garden in every school in New Haven, made headlines in the New Haven Register this summer.  Read about their efforts here.
   
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Urban Oaks Organic Farm received a grant recently which will enable them to expand their school garden program at Lincoln School in New Britain.  Read more in the New Britain Herald.  
 
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The Farm-Based Education Association, based in Massachusetts, is holding their 5th Farm-Based Education Conference on November 3-5, 2011, at Shelburne Farms in Shelburne, VT.   Read up  on the conference offerings, activities, and registration information.
 
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The Unquowa School in Fairfield has changed the way their students eat lunch.  Check out what they did!  And they're not the only ones.  Students (and parents and teachers) have been busy in Fairfield recently.
 
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Henry Abbot Technical High School in Danbury was the winner of a CL&P grant for $20,000 to start their school garden.  Students from all departments will contribute to the garden.  Read their winning essay, and be sure to check out their video showing what their school garden will  look like.

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The Sullivan Farm in New Milford was recently written up in the New York Times. The farm is operated by the New Milford Youth Agency and run in large part by students.

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The summer of 2010 saw the establishment of a garden at Wilton High School. Wilton Patch begins the school's story, and continues it here.
 
 
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October is National Farm to School Month 

 

 

Nat'l Farm to School Month logoOn a related note, in November 2010, Congress approved a resolution introduced to officially designate October as National Farm to School Month.  This designation emphasizes the importance of Farm to School programs in improving children's nutrition and in educating children about food and its origins.  This October is the first celebration of National Farm to School Month.  What better time to think about where our kids' school food comes from, how we can change things... and to consider starting a school garden at your child's school?

 

See what's happening on the Farm to School front in Connecticut.

 

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Grow Some Green for Your Garden
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School gardens need green to be green. Check our resources page for some ideas on how to get started on funding your school garden or farm.  Get ideas for fundraising, learn tips for applying for grants, and find sources for the money to support your project.

 


 

 

 

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We want the CT NOFA School Garden Network to be your go-to site for information on starting, maintaining, and growing your school garden.  Please feel free to contact us with anything - questions you need to ask, ideas or suggestions you'd like to share, comments you want to put out to the school garden community, or news you'd like to tell us about.  We can all learn and be inspired by what others are doing, so please share your stories and experiences with us.  We look forward to hearing from you! 

 

Sincerely,

 

Debbie Semonich

 CT NOFA

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US School Garden Army cropped

Maginel Wright Barney, 1877-1966






 

 

 

 

 

 

"A garden for every child; a child in every garden."

                              ~ the U.S. School Garden Army

 

 

 

PO Box 164
Stevenson, Connecticut 06491
CT NOFA | PO Box 164 | Stevenson | CT | 06491