Garden Spotlight: Restoration Ranch

This month, we are featuring a garden project at a small alternative high school in Essex Junction for individuals with special needs and abilities.* Two summers ago, Alexandra Sanchez started a garden project after she visited the Restoration Ranch for Equine Therapy with her students. The proprietor gave the school a parcel of land where they began planting. By late spring of 2012, they had 5 raised beds and started a small greenhouse.  Several students took part in the garden project from building beds to harvesting during the school’s six-week summer program. Since day one, their focus has been incorporating vegetables from their garden into the school’s culinary program.Bellcate SG2

Despite a challenging growing season due to weather, this year the gardeners harvested a variety of greens, beets, carrots, green beans, radishes, cucumbers, summer squash and tomatoes. They also maintained an herb garden and several worm bins. In addition to providing students with hands-on learning and vocational skills through working in the garden, Alexandra educates the students on the benefits of gardening and healthy eating in other ways as well. Last month, she focused on “Farm to School Month” and started a new “Farm Fresh Friday” tradition, where they were able to visit local farms every Friday. The next project is the relocation of their garden to the school’s front lawn where it can be more accessible to students and staff. With generous donations from Gardener’s Supply, they are excited to bring the project closer to home.

– Jocelyn Morin

*The school has requested not to be named in this article to protect the privacy of its students.

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