As the Spring season wraps up, it is time to say goodbye to the kids and wish them a happy Summer! Since 2013, Grow Food Northampton has welcomed Kindergarten to 3rd graders into the Giving Garden and Community Garden for an hour long field trip experience!
This spring, 26 classes comprised of about 520 kids, were able to get their hands in the dirt! These rain or shine field trips saw mainly beautiful and sunny skies, as kids from each of the four Northampton elementary schools, as well as two classes from both Zenetti Montessori in Springfield and Maple Elementary in Easthampton got to have some garden fun and explore!
Throughout the garden various sites are explored, activities such as the honeybee hives, Medicine Garden, and mural painting are favorites! At a safe distance from the honeybee hives, students get to try on beekeeping equipment and even sample delicious honey from Red Barn Honey. The Medicine Garden is a spot where kids explore different herbs and learn their significance, from being beneficial to human health and animal health! The mural projects allows each student to be creative and paint something they have seen in the garden or would like to see in the garden. In addition to previous year’s art, the students are helping add color to the community garden, making it more beautiful than ever!
Grow Food Northampton made an effort this Spring to invite teachers and classrooms that had not participated in prior field trips, welcoming new kids and giving them an opportunity to experience some garden fun! Ellena Baum, Local Food Educator at Grow Food Northampton, leads these dynamic and engaging experiences where kids working together get to explore, learn, and grow. She says “it is clear that the students have so much fun working together, sharing tools, and strategies,” as the students participate in activities such as laying wood chips and weeding.
The presence of children in the garden helps build community and awareness of where their local food comes from! Director of Programs, Michael Skillicorn explains how important the experience is for all children; “For many kids, it’s a special opportunity to explore the garden. They get their hands in the soil, learn from the hundreds of gardeners growing in their unique styles, and taste and smell and see and feel the outdoors. We love having them at this exciting time of year!”
Everyone always walks away with a smile on their face!”
Field trips to the Community Garden for Spring 2019 were made possible by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and an anonymous foundation. We are already excited to continue working with more students in the Fall!