Orchard School Spring Tag Sale Spurs Sustainability Efforts

Posted by Corey Burdick on 5/9/2019 12:00:00 PM

During the weekend of May 4, Vermonters statewide were busy celebrating Green Up Day by removing errant trash from neghborhoods, highways, and our natural areas. At Orchard School, students, staff, and community members were engaged in their own multi-faceted efforts to reduce and reuse via their annual spring tag sale; which took place Friday, May 3 and Saturday May 4. The total funds raised from the tag sale vary year to year, but the money goes toward Orchard's sustainability efforts; including the procurement of seeds, tools, compost, plantings, mulch, and other items to support the school's 9 cultivated beds and the students who engage in hands-on stewardship lessons.

The tag sale was begun by former teacher and current director of South Burlington non-profit Common Roots, Carol McQuillen. After Carol retired, she continued to oversee the fall tag sale, but now, kindergarten teacher Raechel Barone (who joined the district in the 2015-16 school year) runs the spring sale. "It’s a beautiful event because it serves the community, is a model for how we can reduce, reuse and recycle AND helps sustain our gardens!" Barone said.

Students district wide become involved with the tag sale in numerous ways. School's Out 4th and 5th graders unload boxes of donations and all of the classes engage in the gardens as part of farm-to-school lessons. "Just this week my class planted peas and students in School’s Out began sprouting cherry tomatoes from seed under the grow lights," Barone said, "These starts will be transplanted into our South Garden for snacks during the summer and back to school treats."

While some of the gardens exist purely for their visual appeal, others produce food such as raspberries, herbs for tea like mint, lavender, tulsi, and chamomile, and of course, veggies like peas and carrots. Children who attend the summer programs at Orchard benefit by being able to snack from these gardens and last year, carrots were picked for use on the school's salad bar.

In addition, students involved in this event are actively engaged in the District Ends. According to Coordinator of the Career Development Center, Christine Lundie, all SBHS 9th graders took part in Freshmen Community Service Day May 1 and Lundie's group landed at Orchard School. Lundie noted a direct link between these activities and the District's Transferrable Skills Ends metric; specifically Responsible and Involved Citizenship.

Barone added that "SLAM students helping with the tag sale were actively working on “cooperating, collaborating and leading others” (under Disposition for Life Long Learning). When they engaged with the younger students and shared knowledge about protecting the Earth’s natural resources (as they did in my classroom with the paper mache project), they were doing this AND “demonstrating respect for self, others and the environment”, and “supporting, participating, and/or initiating socially responsible actions to benefit the local and global community” (all under Citizenship)." 

Thanks to all of the students, staff, and community who participated! Can't wait to see what the gardens grow this spring and summer!





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