RiseVT Windham County provided Guilford Central School and Vernon Elementary School with summer garden care support and funds for gardening tools and supplies to both schools. One of the biggest challenges faced by school gardens is who will maintain them over the summer when schools are closed.

For the past 2 years, Food Connects has been addressing this challenge by providing summer garden care for area schools.  Some schools have been able to pay for this care ($500 per school), however Guilford and Vernon do not have the funds available even though they are in need of garden support.

Food Connects’ model is to provide 2 hours per week of summer garden care, for a total of 11 weeks, which includes 2 weeks of planting support with classrooms at the end of the school year.  With RiseVT funds and Food Connects support, Tara Gordon was hired to take care of the gardens and encourage family engagement in the gardens by offering open garden hours to families to work and learn side by side with the garden coordinator in the summer.

Both schools were also in need of some tools and supplies for their gardens. Guilford Central School has open hours every Monday from 9:30-11:30am and Vernon Elementary School has their open hours every Wednesday 5:30pm to 7:30pm for the summer months. Families and members of the community are welcome to join Tara each week to tend to the school gardens, harvest the crops and learn about gardening while working together and bonding through a shared passion.

One family who welcomed a newborn into their world recently explained to Tara that they decided not to have their own garden this year because it would have been too much for their new family this year. However, the school garden provided them the opportunity to take a year off from their personal garden but still reap the benefits of caring for a garden and getting some fresh foods that they helped grow.