2011 National Excellence in Teaching about Agriculture Award
Ms. Gretchen Kimball and Ms. Annette Caldwell
Buckfield Junior Senior High School, Buckfield, Maine
Under the direction of teachers Gretchen Kimball and Annette Caldwell, Buckfield Junior/Senior High students and staff established a 1.2 acre garden to enhance academic achievement, reinforce healthy choices, promote ecological stewardship, and foster community and social development. As students have wrestled with the never-ending problems that accompanied this authentic learning experience, they have grown to appreciate challenge and love learning.
The garden is managed by middle school students, who work each winter to research and plan what will be grown. Using a budget, they order seeds, and in early spring, begin planting. With a rich soil mixture cultivated from their worm bins, students start their seeds under grow-lights in the classroom, moving them to the greenhouse as soon as possible. The planting takes place in early June.
Students and their families volunteer throughout the summer to tend the garden and in mid-July, students begin the harvest, proudly sharing the bounty with their families and the community. In August they market produce from their farm stand, and when school begins, fresh produce is served daily in the cafeteria.
The community joins in to celebrate the work of the students at a Harvest Supper, enjoying foods grown and prepared by the students. While the Harvest Supper marks the end of the growing season, students anticipate the unique endeavors they will bring to next year's Garden Project.