TA News

TA Awarded VT Farm to School Capacity Building Grant

Thetford Academy is proud to be a recipient of a $15,000 capacity building grant from the Vermont Farm to School program. The grant program, open to schools and early childhood centers across the state, aims to “to help schools…develop and expand farm to school programs that will foster relationships with local farmers and producers, enrich students’ educational experiences, improve the health of Vermont children, and enhance Vermont’s agricultural economy.”

In the last few years, TA has been gaining momentum in its implementation of place-based garden programming and farm to school initiatives, working to connect activities in the school’s café, curriculum, and community. From volunteering with Willing Hands to using school-grown winter squash to make pumpkin donuts for the café, students have been active participants in this work and continued student engagement in growing farm to school activities is a key goal of the program.

With this grant for the 2024-2025 school year, TA aims to build technical, infrastructure, and human capacity that will strengthen our leadership in farm to school education. Some of the planned activities in this grant include:

  • With support from TA’s Timber Framing class, build a robust wash/pack station at the garden and minimize the bottleneck between raw garden produce and vegetables that are ready for cooking,
  • Gain technical knowledge to scale food preservation and from-scratch cooking for our lunch service,
  • Increase local food purchasing from nearby farms and food hubs to reduce our food systems environmental impact and augment our garden-grown products,
  • Develop a guide for successful farm to school collaboration including crop schedules, simple and scalable recipes for both classroom and café, data tracking templates, and curricular resources.

In order to accomplish these goals, TA has developed a Farm to School (FTS) team made up of a cross-section of educators, administration, and staff. The core team includes Culinary Arts teacher (Jennifer Gernhard), School Garden Coordinator (Ehrin Lingeman), Food Service Manager (Dawn Phelps), Dean of Students (Siobhan Lopez), and Head of School (Carrie Brennan), who are joined by several more enthusiastic faculty collaborators. The grant also provides each school a team coach and collaborator from a local organization with farm to school expertise. Thetford Academy is excited to work with Vital Communities’ Food & Farm Project Manager Anna Hubbard this year.

The grant team has already hit the ground running. Jennifer and Ehrin are collaborating on garden crop planning for fall culinary arts classes and café use. The student-run Thetford Academy Climate Alliance (TACA) is helping to plan, promote, and serve ‘test recipes’ in the café that were prepared with school-grown ingredients and prepared in our Meal Prep class. TA is hopeful that this grant will provide the on-ramp needed to foster a culture of student care and engagement in our local food system – and will allow students to experience the physical and mental benefits of growing food AND enjoying it on their lunch plates.

Stay tuned for regular updates from TA’s Farm to School team – lots of growth ahead!



We set high expectations. We challenge all members of the school community to reach their highest potential.


We value initiative, courage and dedication. We take personal responsibility for the goals we set and work hard to achieve them.


We work and learn together. We see teachers as coaches, students as team members, families as partners, and learning as practice and action.


We provide individuals with personalized support and guidance. We care about each other and the larger community.


We respect differences among people. We welcome the contribution of varied perspectives to a rich and flexible school culture.