Wednesday, February 2, 2011

An Introduction

In the Fall of 2010, in a collaborative effort between the Barnstable Community Horace Mann Charter Public School (BCHMCPS), the Hyannis Youth Community Center (HYCC) and the Mid Cape Farmer’s Market, a community garden was initiated.   This garden is the first of its kind on school property in the town of Barnstable.  BCHMCPS serves children in Kindergarten through third grade.  The HYCC serves children ages 5 though 18.

The garden’s perimeter measures 245 linear feet.  It will connect over 400 children of diverse demographics and socioeconomic status to the outdoors and nature.  With more than 30 raised beds, The Garden at BCHMCPS will contain assorted organic vegetables, fruits, and flowers.  Currently planned crops include tomatoes, various potatoes, beans, strawberries, blueberries, carrots, lettuces, flowering bulbs and cucumbers.  These will be planted, harvested and sold weekly at the Mid-Cape Farmer’s Market throughout the year in the HYCC’s parking lot, adjacent to the school.  Crops will be in production during the Spring, Summer and Fall months.  Children from BCHMCPS will be responsible for helping to maintain the garden during the school year.  In the summer, children from the HYCC Recreation Program will maintain the garden. 

The garden offers learning on multiple levels.  Some of the learning opportunities  provided by The Garden at BCHMCPS include discovering where food comes from, composting and worm farming, agricultural techniques and skills, responsibility, financial aspects of running a business, counting and sorting crops, art opportunities, journal keeping, problem solving, teamwork and building relationships.  In addition to these goals, we are also attempting to combat childhood obesity and encourage children to make healthier dietary choices.  We plan to integrate produce from the garden into our school’s lunches, provide tastings and host guest chefs for healthy cooking demonstrations.

Our leadership team is comprised of members of the health care field, local farmers, landscapers, educators, various school personnel including the head of Dining Services and School Facilities manager, local community volunteers, town officials and master gardeners.  In addition, we are fortunate to have the support and partnership of local businesses including Emerald Physicians, Briarpatch Pediatrics, Massachusetts Audubon-Long Pasture, Ocean Song Farm, Country Gardens, and Barnstable County’s Healthy Connected Cape Cod Project.  Our main leadership team meets on a monthly basis. Smaller committees including construction, soil management, planting, composting, maintenance, harvesting, selling, education, finance, public relations and nutrition integration meet during the interim as necessary.

The Garden at BCHMCPS’s long term sustainability comes from collaborative commitments made in our community.  The Garden at BCHMCPS’s vision and goals are supported by the Town of Barnstable, local businesses, community and school volunteers, staff and faculty of the school, local gardening associations, local farmers, Farmer’s Markets, news media and physicians groups.

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