Currier Memorial School (CMS), a K-6 school serving Danby and Mt. Tabor, VT visits Smokey House Center several times a school year. During those visits they seed, transplant, cultivate, harvest and learn about vegetable and fruit crops on the Community Farm. This growing Farm to School partnership is widely supported by the administration and teachers of Currier Memorial School, who offer a range of in-school curriculum and project-based learning efforts that complement their farm experience at Smokey House. The students take pride and ownership over the plants they tend during their visits. Though not all crops are equal when it comes to the students’ interests. The great big pumpkin patch and annual ‘weigh in’ is among the favorite visits to Smokey House Center each fall.
The Community Farm project at Smokey House Center is “growing food with and for the community.” Smokey House Center’s Farm to School partnership with CMS is a key component of the Community Farm project. Students work on the Community Farm on field trips, and some continue that work during summer camp or during public community work days. In exchange, CMS families who sign up receive eight weekly “Currier Supported Agriculture,” CSA shares of root and storage vegetable crops in the fall. 3,227.5 pounds of food were distributed through the school at no cost to the families and forty-three families participated in 2017.
This partnership is just one of many Farm to School Initiatives Currier Memorial School engages in to support healthy eating and lifestyle options in the school. Currier participates in the Universal Meals program, The Fresh Fruits and Vegetable program, and they follow statewide Vermont Harvest of the Month, which promotes the use of local, seasonal Vermont foods in the classroom, cafeteria, and curriculum. This past fall, Currier’s open house was even harvest themed, another great testament to their on-going Farm to School programming. The open house featured samples of swiss chard mac ‘n cheese, local apple juice and cider, and a taste-test station comparing store bought carrots to farm fresh carrots. The sixth-grade class, taught by Carrie Mauhs-Pugh, has even built a food dehydrator as part of a learning lab for healthy eating. Students experiment and practice food dehydration and preservation. Amongst the students a favorite dehydrated item this past year was strawberries.
Farm to School offers many benefits to schools. Currier Memorial School principal, Carolyn Parillo, has been a leading force, supporter, and encourager of these efforts in the Danby-Mt. Tabor community. With her unwavering focus on student wellness and healthy lifestyles, CMS has embraced Farm to School for student health, community engagement, and meaningful learning.