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  • Writer's pictureHealthyRootsCollaborative

Farm to School Gleaning Field Trips

Each fall the Healthy Roots Gleaning Program invites teachers to bring students gleaning at several farms in our region. This field trip season has been especially fruitful. We have had 13 field trips from five different schools with approximately 160 students total. Four farms joined us in hosting field trips.

This was our first year gleaning apples at Allenholm Farm in South Hero. Allenholm is just a quarter mile from Folsom School and the 3rd and 4th grades walked over from school to help us pick apples. They had a great time and put their math skills to use estimating the number of pounds and number of apples that they picked. Fairfield 7th grade came to glean at Allenholm as well. Farm to school specialist and Healthy Roots Collaborative advisory committee member Rachel Huff joined the Fairfield class and led a thoughtful land acknowledgement activity with the students.

We also had a small youth group from the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Burlington glean apples with at us at Allenholm Farm. With all these pickers, we were able to send extra apples to the Vermont Foodbank and the Abenaki Helping Abenaki program coordinated by Chief Don Stevens.

In addition to gleaning apples, we had the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th grades from Grand Isle School harvest winter squash at West Shore Farm in Alburgh. This was our first season collaborating with West Shore Farm to grow food for donation, and the Grand Isle School field trip was key to a successful and timely harvest. Nearly 70 students picked over 1000 pounds of squash and also helped clean up dead squash vines and tomato plants to prepare us for next season. Guy and Anna from South Hero Land Trust joined the effort, as did Brian, NRPC's ECO AmeriCorps Assistant Climate & Energy Planner, each leading a different group of students. At the end, each student got to take home a big butternut squash for their family. We are hoping that next spring the Grand Isle students can come back to plant the squash. West Shore Farm has been a great partner in making this all possible.

This fall we also held several gleaning field trips at River Berry Farm in Fairfax. The outdoor technology class at Northwest Technical Center has been gleaning with us at River Berry for a few seasons now. This year the students picked corn, cabbage, peppers, and kale. Students in this class spend most days outside in the community helping with a wide range of projects and learning about different technical education options and career opportunities.

While at River Berry Farm, we brainstormed some of the many jobs connected to Vermont’s agricultural economy. For one gleaning field trip, the BFA Fairfax Food Systems class joined the Northwest Tech Center students. The classes discussed with each other the different projects they were working on. This experience highlighted the beauty of gleaning field trips – students helping to glean many pounds of produce while making connections that may lead to future learning opportunities or employment.

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