Unique Educational Opportunity
I wouldn’t say I’m a kid person. However, in the last few months, they have been growing on me. Working with Cat Buxton and the Education Department at Cedar Circle Farm has provided me with a unique opportunity to see young individuals at their best: engaged in curiosity about plants and farms!
This spring, Cat and I visited several classrooms at Thetford Elementary School as well as hosted many farm tours. I was first struck by the students’ level of engagement and excitement around all things “farm.” They get so excited to plant a seed, to observe the qualities of flowers, to talk about pollinating insects. And their questions are adorable and pertinent, often articulating common confusions that adults don’t quite have the confidence to ask about. Not only are these activities a little dose of something new out of their ordinary classroom exercises, I also get the sense they understand the importance of their connection to farm, landscape and community.
I was also surprised to witness just how skilled the students were in planting seeds and vegetable starts. I must say that I was a little overwhelmed on the day we were to plant 13 raised beds with grades K-3. I felt myself simply wanting to do it myself and avoid the risk of the kids “messing up” my intricately planned garden designs. And, though everything did not go exactly where it was meant to, I couldn’t believe how great they were.
Watching children ever so carefully nurture baby plants as they slip them into the soil is a beautiful thing. Their hands certainly have a feel and a respect for life and growth. It made me realize, that if cultivated at a young age, a green thumb can come quite intuitively. And, what a great thing to install in the younger generation.
Just this week, Cat, myself, and many other awesome school garden volunteers hosted a summer school garden tasting. Being the middle of July, the gardens are looking abundant and full. There are suddenly many veggies that need to be eaten. Summer school students came in throughout the morning to help us harvest lettuce, chives, basil, and nasturtium flowers.
With these fresh ingredients and in view of our gorgeous school garden, we had a cooking party right in the field! Talk about garden to plate! The kids followed several of Cat’s simple but delicious recipes to create a colorful Garden Confetti Pesto, featuring nasturtium flowers, as well as Fresh Spring Rolls with Ginger-Lemon-Tamari Dipping Sauce. The kids were a great help in the preparation of these dishes, especially loving juicing lemons, measuring olive oil, and running the food processor. With just a little coaxing, the kids were also excited to taste and enjoy the fresh, healthy food (and so were the many adult helpers).
Even when my patience is tried or I get frustrated that things aren’t going the way I had planned, seeing young Vermonters engage with the process of growing food makes it all worthwhile. I, and everyone at Cedar Circle Farm, have a dream that all young people can be intimately connected to their food sources so they can be future healthy and responsible consumers and, in turn, make the world a better place.
—by Lauren Harris, Education Programs Assistant