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Bringing the Garden Home for the Summer

The final weeks of the school year in Paterson were packed with garden action. Students at School 8 were delighted to sample the first fruits of their labor–blueberries, tomatoes, and herbs. Sadly, once the year came to a close, each class had to say goodbye to the garden for the summer. Luckily for the kindergarten classes, their last lesson with FoodCorps service member Amanda involved making seed balls–little balls of soil, flour, water, and seeds, that can be planted anywhere with soil. The kindergarteners were thrilled to be able to take home a small piece of the garden–”I’m going to plant mine in the park,” one student declared, while another said, “I’m going to put mine in mommy’s potted plant!” It was easy to see how the students at School 8 have grown to love the garden. While the students plant their seed balls at home, the handful of teachers and students at School 8 over the summer will tend to the garden, keeping it healthy so that lots of vegetables are ready to harvest in September.

Summer break for students may mean less formal programming for the United Way of Passaic County, but it also provides a valuable opportunity for reflection and for planning for the fall. We are taking this time to slow down and look back at what went well in our first months in School 8, as well as what we can improve upon in the coming school year.

Summer at UWPC also means our FoodCorps service member, Amanda, is coming to the end of her service term. We are sad to see her go but excited to welcome our new service member, Julia Balsam! This month, Julia visited School 8 with Amanda and met some of the students, teachers, kitchen staff, and administrators with whom she’ll be collaborating on building a schoolwide culture of health.

Over the summer, we will work on making plans for the fall, including expanding our programs into a second public school in Paterson, and establishing wellness committees at both schools.

 

About the Grantee

United Way of Passaic County

The United Way of Passaic County works to improve the lives of people in Passaic County by mobilizing the caring power of our community. Our goal is to promote healthy nutrition and a food environment within which all County residents can have access to healthy foods and live a healthy lifestyle.