Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sprouts of Hope Share Lessons About Composting

Celebrating School Gardens, Talking about Compost

By Risa

On Saturday, October 3rd, the Sprouts of Hope participated in the City Sprouts School Garden Celebration. The event was a little slow starting because it was raining so hard, and all of the exhibits had to be set up inside instead of outside as we’d hoped. Once the celebration got going, it was a lot fun.

We were asked to represent our school, King Open, which last year became the first school in Cambridge to do school-wide composting in the cafeteria as a part of the Department of Public Works’ Food to Flowers program. So we designed activities for kids that would educate them about composting, in general and at our school.

One activity gave kids the chance to sort what can and can't be composted. We had three colored baskets, and each of us had drawn two things – either food or utensils or other things related to eating – and we’d laminated them so kids could decide which basket to put them in. The baskets were labeled as what can be composted at home, what can be composted at school, and what can't be composted. The point of the activity was to help the kids understand what can be composted in different situations.

We also created a big bubble-lettered page for kids to color. It said:

We want composting at our school.

We're hoping they take these colorful posters to their schools and put them on the walls so that everyone there starts thinking about wanting to have composting happen at their school. The kids really enjoyed coloring, and they – and their parents – seemed enthusiastic about the idea of composting.

Dr. Jeffrey Young, who is the Superintendent of the Cambridge Public Schools, stopped by at our table. We sent him an invitation so we were really glad he decided to come. Since he’s in his first year in Cambridge, we told him in our invitation about how the Sprouts of Hope had testified at the school committee about replacing polystyrene trays because they are bad for the environment. And we let him know how talking about the trays then led to our school, King Open, becoming the pilot program for composting in school cafeterias in Cambridge. He seemed to like the idea of composting at schools in Cambridge and was glad to hear that we were making it work so well in King Open.

At one point Fred Fantini, who is a member of the Cambridge School Committee and one of the people who supports our effort to make the school cafeterias more eco-friendly, stopped by to our table. And some of the Sprouts had their picture taken with him and with Christine Ellersick, who works at the New England Roots & Shoots organization and is always ready to help us.
We also showed the kids and parents who came to visit our table where the food waste from our school's cafeteria goes to be turned into compost.

Even though it rained and we had to be inside, the City Sprouts celebration was lots of fun and we hope we convinced a lot of kids – and parents – in Cambridge to want to start doing composting at their school. For kids at King Open, it’s now just part of what we do. And that’s cool because we’re helping the earth by using our food waste to make really good soil with the things we might otherwise throw away.

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