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ATHENS COMMUNITY SCHOOL LOVES TO "PLAY IN THE DIRT"
What do you get when you fill a bin with compost, dirt and worms? An energetic, happy group of first and second graders learning about worm composting! For many years now, Athens Community School teachers Mrs. Foss and Mrs. Bown have been teaching their students about worm composting and gardening. Already this year, their six large raised beds have been weeded and prepared for the growing season by the students and Dave, custodian and gardener. Somerset Public Health, the local Healthy Maine Partnership in Skowhegan, provides Move More Kids mini grants to schools, community centers and other non-profits who want to improve the physical activity and nutrition environment in their communities. The grants are supported by the New Balance Foundation.
The worm composting project and school garden at the Athens Community School are prime examples of the kind of projects that the Move More Kids mini grant program was designed to fund – initiatives that expose kids and their communities to nutritious foods, outdoor activities, and healthy life-long skills. The on-going gardening project will continue to grow, as Bown and Foss plan to include canning and pickling in this year’s harvest activities.
The Athens students have taken great pride in the worm composting project, which has added a lot of value to the school garden. If you’re wondering what ‘worm composting’ is, it’s a process that works a lot like it sounds – live worms are placed in a dirt-filled bin, and are used to process organic waste into compost. The students at Athens Community School feed their worms a variety of food scraps, like fruits and veggies, which the worms eat and turn into a very high quality compost that plants love. It’s a great way to put food waste to use, create great compost very cheaply, and make a bunch of worms very happy with regular meals. A win-win-win!
The students at Athens Community School also love to show off the gardens themselves, especially after a thorough weeding. This year, some of the new veggies featured in the garden include pumpkins, squash and cucumbers. Once the vegetables are ready for harvest, Mrs. Bown and Mrs. Foss will work with the first and second grade classes to offer a Harvest Dinner to the community. New this year, thanks to the grant from Move More Kids, Kids will learn to can and pickle veggies for winter storage.It’s great when a successful program can get a boost from a fresh idea. The best part – now that worm composting, gardening and canning projects are rolling at the Athens Community School, students and community members will be able to enjoy fun and healthy outdoor gardening activities for years to come.