Since 2008, the Berkshire Middle School Community Garden has been growing vegetables which have all been donated to local soup kitchens and food banks.
- They have grown tomatoes, eggplant, carrots, radishes, onions, peppers, broccoli, cabbage, potatoes, beans, peas, zucchini, summer squash, pumpkins, corn and cauliflower. This year they are going to try asparagus.
- Both school and community volunteers help with the watering, weeding, harvesting and donation of produce. Also, they were able to recruit two Eagle Scout projects—one for the garden fence and the other for raised beds. They have also received several mini-grants to purchase the gated arbor, the garden shed, equipment, and compost bin.
- Many students have said they have enjoyed the experience so much they have started their own gardens! And one former student, who is now in high school, is in the process of starting a community garden at the high school. The children said they are also more willing to try vegetables if they’ve grown them.
- The class has learned all about the process of growing vegetables from seeds, and the responsibility it takes to nurture the garden. They experience gratification when delivering the fresh produce to those in need at local soup kitchens and food banks, and learn the value of working together for a great cause.
- The Berkshire garden was featured as part of a very prestigious Garden Walk because of its sustainability.
- Biggest challenges? The biggest challenge has been having enough volunteers during harvest time, but the garden coordinators are getting better at marketing this opportunity. Now they have their students help with the harvest during their lunch recreation time, which is a big help.
- In terms of approaching summer sustainability, the Berkshire garden coordinators have volunteers sign up for one week throughout the summer and fall. They invite their school’s families to help and also extend the offer to their feeder elementary schools and high school students looking for community service opportunities. Also, they have an active senior citizens organization that is invited to help out.