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Barlow Mountain extends growing season using ‘Let’s Move’ award

Students plant late season lettuce that will be harvested for free salads in the cafeteria in November. From left to right are fifth graders Logan Tunnard, Caitlin Aronson, Will Daly and Luke McGarrity. —Susan Graham photo

The Blooming Bobcats Garden at Barlow Mountain Elementary school has just extended its growing season into November! Cold frames were installed in September using $500 awarded to the school by Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign.

The cold frames provide cover to garden beds in order to lengthen the growing season by several months. Barlow’s “Garden to Table” initiative offers fresh vegetables from the garden to all students, free of charge, in the cafeteria.

The purchase of cold frames will allow garden produce to be served in the cafeteria from April-November. Garden produce is harvested by Barlow students as part of an integrated curriculum that allows students to sow, maintain and harvest the garden. Anne Uecker of growyourveggies.com designed and assembled the cold frames.

Barlow Mountain won the $500 Bronze Award last October, becoming the first school in Ridgefield to win the national “HealthierUS School Challenge.” Certification is administered by the USDA as part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign which makes available the monetary incentive awards.

The Barlow Wellness Committee worked with their Chartwell’s Foodservice partner to apply for certification. “The application process is lengthy and required Barlow to prove it provided an environment where children were eating more healthfully and were more physically active.”   The Barlow Wellness Committee responsible for the award application include teachers Tory Greene, Shirley Hughes, Lisa Whelan and Karen Carroll, Nurse Loretta Steinman and parents Susie Buckley, Mary Carey and Cynthia Rudnicki. Aliza Stern, dietitian from Chartwells, and Christa Nienstadt, manager of the Barlow cafeteria, were instrumental.

School Principal Rebecca Pembrook has been a strong force in supporting the building of the garden and leading its integration into the student curriculum and the cafeteria. “Its wonderful to see every child in the garden, learning where food comes from and getting their hands dirty.”

The Blooming Bobcats garden was built in 2011 with support from Barlow staff, parents and students, and Ridgefield’s Green Village Initiative.

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