Below we share a few stories of our much appreciated community volunteers.
Elaine Swiedler, FoodPrints garden volunteer at School Without Walls at Francis Stevens
Last summer and this fall, I was a caretaker of the vegetable garden at Francis Stevens, keeping things growing when the students couldn’t be there to do it themselves. It was rewarding to see the progress of the plants from week to week, to build new raised beds, and to know that I was helping, albeit indirectly, kids learn about cooking, gardening, and personal and environmental health!
Once, an elderly man who stopped to admire the garden said it was the highlight of his walk each day. Other days, passersby stopped to ask what a certain plant was or to share stories about their gardens or compare what they were growing with what was in front of the school. Even workers from a construction crew across the street stopped to chat. One wanted to know if we were growing mustard greens; another wanted to know if I had any tips for combatting the powdery mildew that was killing the pumpkin plant in his front yard. (Alas, I was unable to help much since he'd already heard about the only remedy that I knew of, which is spraying leaves with a diluted milk solution.)
Many people walked by without saying anything, but for those who did stop, it was only been positive. Caring for the garden and talking to people as they pass by made me feel more connected to my community, and reminded me that there are all types of gardeners and garden appreciators. We're not only educating the kids but learning from each other.
Jean Whaley, FoodPrints volunteer at School Within School
This fall, Jean also began volunteering regularly in the FoodPrints program SWS, where students spend a half-day in their FoodPrints sessions. In addition to gardening and academic content through lessons, writing and drawing, students prepare several recipes and eat lunch together. On a January day with the first graders at SWS, Jean helped prep the ingredients for Bean & Vegetable Chili and Wheat Berry Salad. She worked with the students to make the chili and stir it as it cooked on the stove.