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Bayfield School

Kathy NotebloomThe Bayfield School Garden Project began with a small garden initiated by health and phy. ed. teacher Marilu Steppen-Belanger two years ago.  The success of the small garden inspired others to start the ball rolling in an effort to create a school-wide project. 

The Bayfield School is located on a beautiful hillside overlooking Lake Superior in Bayfield, WI.  We are a K-12 school with 457 students enrolled and 110 staff members and volunteers.  Our school community at large includes the City and Town of Bayfield, the Red Cliff Reservation, the Town of La Pointe on Madeline Island, and the Town of Russell. 

This school year we were awarded a grant from the Wisconsin Environmental Education Board. (WEEB) The grant is entitled “Making Connections; Our Health, Our Environment and Our Economy.” Through this grant we will do three things:  Our first project is a school wide composting program.  Each of the K-5 classrooms has been equipped with vermiculture bins (worm bins). Students will learn the technique of composting their fresh fruit and vegetable snack each day with their red wiggler worms. The worm castings will be used to supply the school garden with nutrients. In the school cafeteria the kitchen staff will be separating valuable produce scraps into compost bins that will go into the duel-bin composter.  The composting program will model desirable environmental behavior in students, staff, and community members.

The second project is the school garden. Because of the success of the small garden developed two years ago, the school administration has fully supported the growth of the garden plot.  In fact, the location expansion has required the maintenance crew to remove mature sun-blocking aspen trees and work with local excavators to ready the site.  Our intention is to replace those aspen trees with orchard trees like apples and pears on the north side of the site. We also have in our plan a site for sugar maple trees to be planted in hopes of having a school sugar bush for future generations.  The student-centered garden is a place to model a holistic approach to curriculum that not only promotes sustainability, but covers history, math, science, cooking, nutrition, art, and entrepreneurialism.

The third project is our school greenhouse.  Construction of the greenhouse is underway and combines the efforts of high school science teacher Mark O’Neill who acquired the greenhouse through the Carl Perkins Challenge grant and community volunteers who are working to construct it. The greenhouse ties together the composting project and school garden.

One of our successes this year was the Three Sisters Garden planted by the 5th grade students in Kathy Noteboom’s and Laura Bohn’s classes.  After attending the 7th Annual Indigenous Farming Conference in Calloway, MN this year, Mrs. Noteboom brought back sacred corn, bean and squash seeds that were planted in the school garden.
The Bayfield School would like to thank the Green Education Foundation for the donation of tools and supplies this year and the AmeriCore Farm to School program for promoting two volunteers who will be working with our school to promote nutrition education and community food procurement and outreach.