Walker Elementary students open farm stand as part of service learning project
Liberty — Two students at Walker Elementary School decided to open a farm stand offering fresh vegetables as part of a service learning project focused on making Waldo County a healthier place to be.
The service learning project was facilitated by Walker Elementary School Principal Glen Widmer and FoodCorps service member Christine Gall, as well as a representative from Tanglewood.
Gall helps Walker Elementary maintain its greenhouse and gardens, and she spends time teaching students throughout Regional School Unit 3 about cooking, gardening and nutrition.
As part of the project, Widmer and Gall asked students to brainstorm projects related to a “Healthy Waldo County.” That was when Madison Paradis and Sophia King, who were fifth graders at the time, but will be entering sixth grade this fall, decided to open a farm stand at the school that would offer fresh vegetables from the school gardens.
The two students went a step further with their plans and instead of just harvesting and selling the vegetables grown in the greenhouse and surrounding beds at Walker Elementary, King and Paradis offer the produce at a “pay what you can” price.
Speaking to the project Wednesday, July 9, Paradis said one of the most challenging aspects of the farm stand was the amount of planning the two students had to do before the project could even get off the ground.
“I was really excited to see all the people come and say how great it [the farm stand] is,” Paradis said.
King added that one of her favorite aspects of the project was having people comment on the food before they leave with some of the vegetables.
Widmer said the intent of the service learning project is to integrate classroom curriculum into a meaningful project that has a positive impact on the community. To that end, students focused on three areas — environmental issues, personal health issues and mental health issues.
Students also heard from a number of guest speakers who visited the classroom to answer questions prior to selecting their specific project. Widmer said students spent about eights weeks working on the projects, which began in the winter.
"The energy the kids have is great," Widmer said. "We want to see our students energized by learning."
The farm stand is open from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays and Gall said she hopes it will remain open until the end of the month.
With the pay what you can model, Gall said any money generated by the sale of the produce goes directly into the garden program at the school whether that's for equipment or seeds for planting.