School Garden is Growing at TA
September 28, 2021
If you haven’t been on campus lately, you might have missed some new growth happening on the Barrett Outdoor Campus.
The Barrett land, adjacent to Thetford Academy and abutting the Thetford Hill State Forest, was acquired by TA in 2015. Since then, the land has become a lively hub for outdoor learning. In just the last five years, students have designed and raised a timber framed outdoor classroom, built a sugar shack for TA’s burgeoning annual maple harvest, and installed a low ropes course for community team building activities.
The property has also provided TA a unique opportunity to expand and reinvigorate agricultural learning at the school. Students in Casey Huling’s “Why Food Matters” social studies elective course, initiated this work – building a root cellar, raising a hoop house, and installing and fencing a 700-square foot garden space. These efforts formed a foundation enabling the launch of TA’s new garden, a year-round effort to bring farm to school principles and practices to our school community.
Today, the space is home base for Ehrin Lingeman, school garden coordinator, who oversees the TA school garden and farm to school initiatives. Hired in May 2021, Ehrin comes to TA with a rich background in agriculture and experiential education. Most recently, she worked in the Vermont Community Garden Network’s teaching gardens, providing students and community members hands-on learning opportunities growing their own food. A Peace Corps alumna, Ehrin also spent a year in Cameroon working as a rural agricultural extension volunteer.
Since the spring, Ehrin has revitalized the garden space left fallow during Covid. With the support of interns in TA’s first Summer Challenge program, she planted what quickly became a thriving vegetable and herb garden. A quarter of the garden is planted with crops closely related to seed from the indigenous Abenaki community of the Northeast, and the rest planted with tomatoes, summer squash, beneficial pollinator plants, herbs, carrots, and more. This semester, Ehrin also launched a student garden club that meets on Mondays to learn, work, and help plan for the growing seasons to come.
This reinvestment in agriculture at Thetford Academy aims to provide students with both educational opportunities across the curriculum and locally grown food for TA’s school meals. We look forward to the continued growth – of food and of learning – that the school garden program will provide.