Life through the eyes of a child is better than rose-colored! They find wonder and amazement in the simplest of things, learning with gusto! Today’s children are indeed the future, and I love that my daughter’s generation is embracing a “greener” thinking than mine did at her age. I’m really proud of my daughter’s school, introducing kids to gardening and composting. I’ve seen first-hand how excited the kids are to be on-board! Visit with me, the Suburban Farmgirl, and “The Composting Kids”.
Hawley School is one of my town’s elementary schools, and I ‘m sad thinking it’s my daughter’s last year there. It’s a public school, yet the students, parents and teachers are a family, and I’ve met so many inspirational folks in the past five years. I consider it a blessing that parents are able to volunteer there in various ways. I love getting to know everyone, and having a glimpse of my child’s life outside our home.
Composting, as any Farmgirl knows, is the ultimate recycling, turning scraps into gardening gold! I started composting at home in early 2010, aiming for the “Gaining Ground” Farmgirl Sisterhood Merit Badge, and have been hooked ever since. It’s amazing how composting kitchen scraps cuts down our garbage (so I use less garbage bags) and creates a lush earth for my vegetable, herb, and flower gardens. So when my friend Susan suggested I help her compost at school with the kids during their lunch period, I was happy to help.
My dear friend, Susan Burbank, and I on “Composting Day”
One day each week, Susan brings in several big buckets. As each grade level finishes eating, we walk around the café, giving the kids a chance to toss in compost-ready leftovers. The kiddos are so proud to contribute. (We make sure they don’t use the buckets to toss the “good stuff” by not eating it. We encourage them to eat their lunch, by all means). The kids know we can’t use meats or fat, and why. I think this encourages kids to eat more fruits and veggies, because they want to contribute. My daughter’s asked me to pack an apple, for example, on composting day so she can toss in the core. At the end of lunch, two children from each class get to compost. This is done on a rotating schedule, so that everyone gets a turn. The “buddies” then walk with us outside to the compost bin, and empty the day’s bucket. The bin itself is one where the scraps go on top, and the bottom “drawer” holds the rich, dark, finished compost. Students are so aware of how much and what kind of waste is collected each time, their eyes popping when we open the bottom, showing them what their efforts have achieved! We then walk them to class, reminding them to wash their hands before sitting down. The kids are so eager and proud to be one of the week’s “Composters”.
This is an example of just one day’s waste at school.
The school’s compost bin is tucked away where it is easily accessible from the garden, but out of the way as well.
The original idea came from Hawley’s math and science teacher, Mrs. Deborah Cowden. It stemmed from Hawley’s Garden Club, born when a parent of a former student was becoming a Master Gardener, and a small group of parents who formed a “Go Green” Committee. Mrs. Cowden believes composting at school ingrains the students with the idea of “Re-using and Recycling”. The compost, used in the garden, adds beauty to our school. The third grade has an environmental unit in science, and composting enriches what they learn. Mrs.Cowden also adds that by composting, the kids learn a skill, and may change the way their family does things at home, as well.
Mrs. Cowden, Math and Science Teacher Extraordinaire!
The school garden has been a wonderful addition to the grounds, tended and cared for by students and parents in Garden Club, something my daughter and I have enjoyed doing. Sharon Longo, a teacher in the district and mom to a student at school, heads up the club, which meets in the fall and spring months. In the past two years, she’s come up with fun ideas and activities to get kids involved and excited to garden. I’ve seen both girls and boys show great love and respect for our little garden, and it’s a real source of pride for them. It’s great for any school, but I think in cities and suburbs it’s especially important, since some kids may not get the chance to garden or compost at home.
This salad was made with the last of the lettuce and sunflower seeds the Garden Club harvested one fall. My daughter’s always loved veggies, but really started eating salad after this!
Speaking of composting at home, I recently visited a local shop, Our Green House, and found the “Scrap Happy Compost Bin”, made of silicone and recycled stainless. Attaching to the kitchen drawer under the counter, I can neatly scoop my scraps into the bin. From there, it can go directly into the freezer, if it’s too cold or dark to go to the compost bin. Nifty, right? I love it. You can check it and other green products out at www.ourgreenhouse.com.
So how does your school get started gardening and composting? There’s companies that do it, (http://teichgardensystems.com/, for example), or get parents interested and willing to make it happen, like at our school. Our school’s compost bin was a donation, as are many of the plants in the garden. Our family planted Hostas from our yard, hoping they’ll serve as a little green legacy.
Please leave me a comment, letting me know you stopped by. Until next time, Farmgirl Hugs from the “Snow-Burban Farmgirl”! (Thinking warm thoughts, spring’s almost here….)