First to Harvest
Reading, Writing, and Gardening is all elementary
What began as a dream has become an impressive reality. Claire Carlson, from the Green Village Initiative (GVI), has labored to develop edible gardens at each public school in town. As a result, Ridgefield is the first Connecticut town to boast such an achievement.
Each school’s edible garden is unique, specifically tailored to the school, based on size, location, and education plan. For instance, Veterans Park Elementary School constructed its vegetable garden around a colonial theme to blend with the heart of the historic town center. Barlow Mountain Elementary School built a surrounding fence, allowing the garden to be ADA-accessible to the disabled. In addition, each school has a specific delegate who has worked directly with the GVI, coordinating the garden’s progress with the individual school’s needs.
With a passion for sustainability, Carlson is proud of Ridgefield school district’s recent accomplishment, which has surpassed expectations of town officials. While things are running smoothly now, there were many obstacles for GVI to overcome. Not only were the gardens expensive, costing up to $3,000 apiece, but also called for permits and approvals from schools, the fire marshal, and Parks & Recreation.
All students, K through 12, now interact with edible gardens, which Carlson believes “will help us all become more connected to our food and develop a better understanding and respect for the soil that it grows in.” Additionally, with gardens now incorporated into the curriculum, it is hoped students will have a greater appreciation for earth science.
Throughout the summer and into the school year, students and volunteers alternated tending the soil—watering, weeding, and harvesting produce. For Carlson, these gardens will help promote a greener Ridgefield, teaching students of all ages about sustainability, nutrition, and agriculture.