Did you know October is National Farm-to-School month? To celebrate, let's take a look at what's going on at the nation's oldest public school.
Located in the heart of the city of Boston, right down the street from Fenway Park, Boston Latin is pioneering the first farm-to-school project of its kind. As champions for sustainability, the school’s student-led sustainability group, YouthCAN, wanted to take a new approach to growing food and sustainability education. After being selected as the Grand Prize winner of the Global Green Schoolmakeover in 2013, Boston Latin became the first school to implement a freight farm on campus. Being in an urban environment where land is scarce and the climate isn't conducive to year-round growing, they chose this as way to overcome those obstacles, and try something new and innovative.
Throughout the first year that the farm has been in operation, the school has used it in a variety of ways to raise awareness around sustainable food production while simultaneously teaching students the science behind hydroponic growing. It has taken students out of the classroom and into a new learning environment where they can see first-hand how fresh greens can be grown indoors without soil. In addition to educating BLS students, the school freight farm hosted numerous tours for local high schools and universities, like Northeastern University, who are also interested in implementing similar projects on their campuses.
As a way to visually display the school’s urban farming initiative, the YouthCAN group went to the drawing board. They designed a cityscape mural and worked with the Freight Farms team to bring their vision to life.
This past spring, BLS was recognized by the US Department of Education and named a Green Ribbon Schoolfor their “comprehensive environmental, health and social justice initiatives that students spread not just at the school but throughout the community”, and it’s clear that the school has become a model for others.
So what’s next? The school is going to be piloting their very own student-led CSA with the produce grown in the freight farm. Tim Gay, an environmental science teacher, is leading the project and working with students to develop a weekly CSA for parents and faculty that will be kicking off in several months. Depending on the students’ interests and skills, they will be able to choose from a variety of different initiatives within the project ranging from planting and harvesting produce to community outreach and marketing.
Boston Latin is hoping to make positive changes in the school’s food environment and have a lasting impact on the health of their community. This project will give students hands-on learning experience outside of the classroom and allow them to take ownership over a project that is new and exciting. Receiving first hand experience not only exposes students to real-life opportunities, but also equips them with the right knowledge to make more informed choices that support their health.