Farm and Garden
At Thetford Elementary we have a complete Food Loop!
Students order and plants seeds, harvest and eat fresh food, compost food waste and return nutrients back to the soil all the while learning the relevance of math, reading, science, technology and engineering, and good, hard, feel-good, full-sensory physical work.
All of the food produced at school is used in the classrooms or the cafeteria. Sometimes berries, beans, carrots or cherry tomatoes end up in bellies during recess!
Fourteen raised gardening beds.
7 School Lunch beds where we grow food to supplement the cafeteria
6 beds in the courtyard near the outdoor reading room are Theme Gardens beds, one for each primary grade classroom and one is reserved as the 5th grade experimental bed.
1 bed on the north end for herbs to supplement classroom cooking and baking.
Three in-ground gardens:
Behind the sledding hill where aged compost is cured and stored is a designated patch pumpkins, squash and melons.
In 2020 our food service and office staff each added gardens on the north side of the school by the school lobby entrance.
In 2021 we’ll start growing some supplemental grains for our goats!
We have one reliable old apple tree on the north end and a small orchard in east schoolyard with 2 mature Apple trees. Two more apple trees and a pear tree have since been added to the east orchard. A mature pear tree lives by the Mini Park and 2 peach trees grow in the courtyard. We grow fall raspberries, blueberries, cranberries and even some strawberries. Our 3rd and 4th grader classes manage the fruit trees and berry patches.
Fun fact; the 3 large apple trees were planted by Mr. M and his students three different years on Johnny Appleseed Day.
Each year 5th grade students order all of the seeds for our school garden, develop a planting calendar and start a whole lot of seedlings in their classrooms. Our primary grade students also start some seeds in their classrooms. We plant our gardens the first week of June.
Watch out for our seed fundraiser each spring!
We are extremely grateful to Crossroads Farm and Cedar Circle Farm who have donated some plants, soil and/or trays to our gardens every single year! As the students learn to do more to support our gardens, we rely less on community support from our local farms. But we are no less grateful! Thank you farmers!
As an extension of our gardening program, we began composting in 2015. Our hot composting system manages about 100 pounds of food scraps each week and regularly reached temperatures of 130 degrees. The compost system is managed is managed by 6th graders. Three days a week students make a deposit and record data from our active compost pile. This data is used to enhance our math and science curriculum.
Two days a week local farm chickens enjoy about 50 lbs. of food scraps a week. Soon, our school chickens will enjoy food scraps too!
All of the finished compost is returned to our schoolyard gardens and orchards to enhance the biological activity in our soil, enabling conditions for water to soak in and for very healthy food to be grown in our schoolyard.
Starting in 2020, TES began saving seeds for the community seed library at Latham Library.
Our school garden and compost system are a popular place for other schools to visit. Each year, we host tours of the Food Loop to schools across the states of VT and NH.
TES compost system was featured in the Northeast Resource Recovery Association’s 2020 composting manual ‘Closing the Food Loop at School’.