For its tenth consecutive year, Green Mountain Farm-to-School will host Harvest Festivals with 11 Northeast Kingdom schools in celebration of local food, agriculture and healthy communities. Harvest Festivals are an opportunity for the community to gather around and share a meal prepared by students from produce harvested from school gardens or sourced from local producers. The festivals take place between September and October and are open to the local community.

Harvest Festivals reinforce farm-to-school programming by providing students with the opportunity to connect the dots between planting a crop, harvesting it, and turning it into a healthy meal. Since most students were involved with planning, planting, and caring for their school gardens the previous spring, the Festivals are an exciting time for students to reap the benefits of their work and share that experience with their families and friends.

AmeriCorps Farm to School Coordinators work closely with schools to coordinate the events that start with an all-school harvest a few days prior to the festival. At all-school harvests, each student participates in an aspect of harvesting – whether that be up-rooting beets from the soil, collecting ripe tomatoes from the vine, or cutting broccoli off its stalk.

After the produce has been harvested, Coordinators work closely with students on the day of the festival to prepare the meal that they will later share. Each class takes a turn preparing a different aspect of the meal. Kindergarten students may help stir the batter for beet brownies, 2nd graders might shred carrots for a slaw, and 5th graders might help chop vegetables for a vegetable stew. At the end of the collaborative process, almost every student has been involved in preparing the meal, sharing a sense of accomplishment and pride.

Once the meal has been completed with the help of students, volunteers, teachers and food service staff, the community gathers around for a shared experience and a delicious meal.

The festivals are a component of GMFTS’s multifaceted approach to farm to school programming that reaches across the classroom, cafeteria and community. The experience engages students in each step of the process, providing them with autonomy and ownership over their school garden. The experience also helps build students’ confidence in the kitchen – skills they can work to develop further and practice outside of school.

Please contact your local elementary school for dates and times: Barton, Coventry, Derby, Glover, Irasburg, Jay/ Westfield, Lakeview, Lowell, Newport City, Orleans, Troy.