A program of Island Grown Initiative, Island Grown Schools empowers a new generation of students on Martha’s Vineyard to make healthy eating choices, learn to grow food and connect to local farms.
At Island Grown Schools, we bring garden-based learning, healthy, locally grown food, and hands-on farm experiences to almost every school-aged child in our community. We work with all seven K-12 schools on the island and with ten preschools, a total of over 2,500 students from 2-18 years old. We have installed and help maintain 16 school gardens, and lead over 1,000 classroom lessons and 75 farm field trips each year.
We are a program of Island Grown Initiative, a non profit that supports a resilient and equitable food system in our local community by providing food and agriculture education and developing infrastructure to make a year-round local food system viable.
Our program has four main components:
We work with cafeteria directors and their staff at all K-12 schools to increase the amount of locally grown foods used in school meals, and to strengthen the ties between farms and schools. By sourcing produce, meat and fish locally in school cafeterias, schools can help maintain the vibrant agricultural and fishing heritage of Martha’s Vineyard while paving the way for life-long healthy eating habits for our students.
We work at every grade level to integrate food, farm, and nutrition-based learning into classrooms. We collaborate with teachers to identify curriculum connections, and have found that every subject can be taught through the lens of food and agriculture. We also see that students with different learning styles, who do not necessarily thrive in a traditional classroom environment, often shine in hands-on lessons in the school gardens. Our core curricular lessons are available to download for free here.
We have established gardens at all of seven K-12 schools and at nine preschools, and work with our students, teachers, school staff, parents, and community volunteers to maintain them. We see our gardens as outdoor classrooms, where students not only have the opportunity to learn their school subjects, but where they are also able to deepen their connection to nature, and understand the roots of their food system.
Each year we bring students of all ages to our working island farms. This gives our farmers an opportunity to pass some of their wisdom on to the next generation, and helps our children have a deeper understanding of where their food comes from. Through experiential, hands-on projects, gleaning, and farm tours, these visits also help students appreciate farming as a demanding, admirable, rewarding profession that they can aspire to when they grow up.
For more information, visit http://www.islandgrownschools.org.
P.O. Box 622
Vineyard Haven, MA 02568