Derby and Newport schools awarded farm-to-school grant

in Derby/Newport/News

NEWPORT — Derby Elementary School and Newport City Elementary School are joining forces to champion farm-to-school in the Northeast Kingdom through a joint farm-to-school grant provided by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture and Markets. The two town teamed up with Green Mountain Farm-to-School (GMFTS) to apply for the competitive Farm-to-School Grant Program, eventually being awarded $9,000 to implement a variety of farm-to-school programs between the schools.

“I am ecstatic that Derby and Newport Elementary received a farm-to-school implementation grant,” says Caroline Aubry, the farm-to-school coordinator with GMFTS that works with both schools and helped them apply for the grant. “The grant is going to allow them to expand their programming so more children will have access to fresh, healthy produce and be able to receive more nutrition and agriculture education.”

Through the farm-to-school implementation grant, which provides funding through May 2017, Derby Elementary School and Newport City Elementary will work to accomplish several objectives. The objectives were agreed upon and will be implemented by a joint farm-to-school committee comprised of administrators, teachers, and parents from both schools.

They will work to increase the amount of local food being served in the school food program by five percent by planting more food in the school gardens and incorporating popular taste tests of new vegetables into the menu. The schools will also explore composting initiatives and build infrastructure to comply with Act 148, the Universal Recycling Law.

Each school will also purchase a mobile cooking cart to streamline cooking activities with students, invest in tools to maintain the school gardens and clean and process vegetables grown in them for the cafeteria, and purchase garden kits for classes to utilize the garden space to promote Next Generation Science Standards.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to teach kids about where their food comes from and how important it is to grow your own local food as well as have access to more fresh local vegetables,” says Stacey Urbin, principal, Derby Elementary School. “We are looking forward to our students continuing to be involved with farm-to-school programming and having some added pieces. The teachers are very excited to be using the garden as a teaching space, particularly with science lessons.”

Derby Elementary School began working with GMFTS last year to bring farm-to-school programming to their students through a similar farm-to-school grant while Newport City Elementary has been working with GMFTS since 2010. Both schools grow their own vegetables in school gardens, celebrate Vermont Harvest of the Month through monthly, school-wide taste tests, and provide nutrition and agriculture lessons.

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