Guilford Central continues to grow its farm-to-school program

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GUILFORD — Guilford Central School recently welcomed a new farm-to-school coordinator to its team.

Sarah Rosow, a Guilford parent and community member, will assist the school as it prepares to carry out a second year of funding through the Vermont Agency of Agriculture Food and Markets.

"It is a joy and a privilege for me to work in a school that values farm-to-school education," said Rosow. "The entire staff is committed to teaching students about where their food comes from, how food is grown and produced, and how important it is for us to support local agriculture. The students enjoy and benefit from frequent cooking and gardening projects, which allow them to learn the important life skills of growing and preparing food. These projects also provide opportunities for teamwork and collaboration, creative problem solving, and applying classroom learning to real-world situations."

Farm-to-School programming has been integral at the school for many years, taken on collectively by faculty, staff and the previous coordinator, Hanna Jenkins.

Jenkins and her partner, Andy, own the local farm, Tapalou Guilds, and will continue to support farm-to-school activities in the years to come.

In partnership with local nonprofit, Food Connects, the farm-to-school team has a variety of activities planned for this winter, spring and summer, and the team will continue to include the cafeteria, classroom and community in their initiatives.

This winter, the school will host Vermont Feed educators for a full day of professional development around farm-to-school education in the classroom and garden. Students participate in regular cooking classes, using local foods with Rosow and teachers host Harvest of the Month taste tests in the cafeteria each month.

Rosow also will partner with teachers this winter to set up classroom grow labs in preparation for summer gardening. The school has several gardens onsite and, this spring, all students will be involved in planting and gardening.

As for the cafeteria, chef Dan Rounds of Cafe Services, will be serving his students a variety of local products, including things like yogurt, potatoes, beef and root vegetables. Last school year, 10 percent of all food and 50 percent of all vegetables on the cafeteria menu came from within 30 miles of the school. For the past two years, the school has received a generous donation of one whole cow from Franklin Farm in Guilford.

Food Connects Farm-to-School program manager Kate Venne was able to join the school for "local burger day" and heard from one delighted student who said that she knew the farmers, and even got to work there a few times. Rounds hopes to include even more products from local farms in the coming months, including winter squash and maple syrup.

With all this momentum around food and farming, Principal John Gagnon and the Farm-to-School Committee are hoping to build upon existing community involvement this spring.

"We are excited to share all of the great news about what is going on with our FTS program, and we are expanding our outreach to bring in more community members to partner with," said Gagnon.

The fifth grade will partner with local permaculturist Andy Loughney to design and install a perennial garden on the school grounds this spring. The team also welcomes community input and support for their annual vegetable garden.

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