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More in News
Education program at Roberts Farm celebrates second summer
LOCAVORES — Students from Oxford Hills Middle School fill their plates with fresh vegetables and local meats at a recent luncheon to celebrate the second summer of programming at SAD 17's outdoor classroom at Roberts Farm in Norway.
TOUR GUIDE — SAD 17 Superintendent Rick Colpitts gets a guided tour through one of the greehouses at the Roberts Farm outdoor classroom from middle school student Evan Grant.
BEE KEEPERS — Fred Knightly, SAD 17 fields and grounds manager and Ricky Danzig, an 8th grader from Otisfield, take a close look at the bee hive located at the district's outdoor classroom at Roberts Farm Preserve in Norway.
NORWAY — It was a menu that would have warmed the heart of the most ardent locavore – garden-fresh salsa, roasted garlic summer squash, vegetable stir-fry, lemon-cucumber sandwiches, locally-raised beef chili, fresh vegetable stir-fry and "chicken wing surprise" rounded out with carrot cake cookies and fruit parfait.
Guests eagerly tore into the buffet at last Thursday's luncheon, held to celebrate the successful second year of the "leadership in transition" program for local middle schoolers at SAD 17's outdoor classroom on Roberts Farm Preserve.
Diners could certainly feel connected to the bounty, most of which came straight from the gardens and greenhouses that surrounded the crowd of nearly 50 teachers, administrators, parents and students.
Located on a several-acre plot at the Preserve, the outdoor classroom boasts four greenhouses, a portable classroom, a chicken coop, frog pond, beehive and more than an acre of vegetable fields.
Pat Carson, the district's student health coordinator, seems committed to use every available inch and every free hour to expand the the site's possibilities.
More summer program was initiated this year, including a pilot literacy program for Paris Elementary students funded by the John T. Gorman foundation. In addition, a high school employment program, also in its second year, keeps more than five Oxford Hills teens busy busy working the gardens and greenhouses.
Carson says programming will expand even further in the upcoming school year and students from across the district will pursue cross-curricular experiential learning mixed with a healthy dose of wellness and nutrition education in the four-season outdoor classroom.
As Carson pointed out at the luncheon, the Roberts Farm classroom is funded entirely through grants, donations and fund raising – although supported by the school district, no district funding is directed to the program.
The progress made over the past year - moving the classroom from the "picnic table and broken tractor" it started with to its current incarnation - has taken an army of volunteers and supporters and Carson took time during the luncheon to honor a few of them.
Specifically, Carson thanked SAD 17 Superintendent Rick Colpitts, who gave the initial OK to launch the site; Fred Knightly, the SAD 17 fields and grounds manager who took his own vacation time to complete excavation work last summer; Sherri and Toby Whitman, parents who donated truck-loads of manure and mulch to jump-start the vegetable fields; and Lee Dassler, the director of the Western Foothills Land Trust, who generously leases acreage to the program for $1 a year.
As the lunch wound down and students prepared to get ready for a swim in neighboring Lake Pennesseewassee, program coordinator Dan Rennie led the entire group in a song to mark the occasion: "Dirt Made My Lunch."
"Thank you dirt, thanks a bunch, for my salad, my sandwich, my milk and my munch 'cause Dirt, you made my lunch," the group chorused.