In D-E’s Middle School, each grade-level group reaches out in some way to give back to others and considers how to contribute to the larger community. In sixth grade, students address the problem of hunger in New Jersey and work to make a difference for families who need help putting nutritious food—particularly fresh produce—on the table.
For the past four years, D-E students have connected with America’s Grow-a-Row (AGAR), non-profit, volunteer-supported organization that plants and harvests produce for food pantries and free farmer’s markets in the most needy counties of New Jersey. On the first of two trips this fall, sixth graders traveled to AGAR’s new 49-acre farm in Pittstown, NJ, where AGAR educates students about hunger in the community. Students were immediately able to help by spending about four hours harvesting apples that were later delivered to local food pantries.
This service learning project continues with a Middle School-wide reflection on community service and a January visit from AGAR staff members, who will lead a sixth grade day of workshops on hunger in New Jersey and why fresh produce is particularly important. In the spring, students will work even closer to home to plant a vegetable garden for the Englewood Center for Food Action, enabling that organization to provide fresh produce to clients during the summer. Students will learn about the steps for planting a garden and train for our various roles—from testing soil to harvesting compost and starting seeds—in D-E’s own school vegetable gardens.
At the end of the year, the sixth graders will return to AGAR’s farm to help plant a crop that will be harvested later in the summer by other volunteers.
For more on AGAR, visit americasgrowarow.org.
D-E’s Sixth Grade Receives “Full Circle Award” from AGAR
The D-E sixth grade’s partnership with AGAR was recently recognized with the Full Circle Award at AGAR’s sixth annual Thanks for Giving Barn Dinner on November 13, held at the AGAR farm for the first time. Named after the incorporation of both the hands-on and educational components that make up the sixth grade service project, the Full Circle Award honored the sixth grade for not only devoting two work days at AGAR for the past three school years, but also inviting AGAR to teach the sixth graders in a formal classroom setting on the D-E campus.
Sixth Grade Dean and DIG teacher Tasha Urbanowski (center) accepts the from AGAR Director of Programming Leena Waite (left) and President & Founder Chip Paillex (right).
DIG Classes Take Inspiration from the New York Botanical Garden
The seventh and eighth graders of the DIG(D-E in the Garden) classes took a trip to the New York Botanical Garden on October 14 to observe various areas of the 240-acre site to adapt to D-E’s new Upper School lot garden – aka the big garden. The 16 students were each assigned tasks prior to the trip, from public relations to plant selection. Students used iPads for taking notes and photos of key areas of interest, including how different parts of the gardens are labeled, planted, and maintained.
D-E Growing Garden Project Update
By Tasha Urbanowski, Sixth Grade Dean
The D-E Growing Garden Project (GGP) was active over the summer, hosting a Mulch, Mint Lemonade & Mojitos event on July 30, where volunteers prepared the school’s newest garden space by the D-E Upper School parking lot—also known as the “big garden.” Participants laid out new paths in the brand new garden beds and spread mulch, all while staying hydrated by sipping beverages flavored with fresh mint grown at D-E!
The MS Garden Club has planted a border of sunchoke along the back of the big garden, in hopes of annoying deer trying to jump the fence during the summer, while also providing the cafeteria with a nice batch of Jerusalem artichoke in the fall.
The GGP parent group had its first gathering of the 2015–16 year in early October and is planning its next work day.
Various classes are also engaged in their usual fall tasks. For example, DIG students saved seeds while Ethnobotany students engaged in a flower study.
As part of their project-based learning unit “What’s the Plan?” eighth grade DIG students also interviewed a number of teachers, asking questions about those teachers’ intended use of the garden and the educational objectives of a school vegetable garden. The class is excited about designing spaces, plantings, and bed arrangements to meet the needs of those classes.
Bumpers for the raised beds in the new Upper School lot garden came in late October, and DIG students are diving into constructing the beds.
As seen below, a hale and hearty group had a late November work day in the new big garden to enrich the beds for the spring, plant bulbs, and create the beginnings of a new “Latin Border”. They planned and planted strategically so that D-E students can add in herbs and flowers in Spring 2016.