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Teacher Jennifer Choquette has developed a schedule to have the students work in the garden.

BArT Joins Initiative To Grow Food For Pantries

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff
11:30AM / Tuesday, May 08, 2012
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The students will tend to the garden during the school year but then staff will be doing it on their own during the summer.
ADAMS, Mass. — Berkshire Arts and Technology Public Charter School is the first organization to join a new initiative to bring homegrown vegetables to the county's food pantries.

The Grow Extra — a variation of national Grow a Row intuitive — is an attempt to get farmers, organizations and home gardeners to grow even more vegetables this summer and donate to the pantries.

The effort is spearheaded by the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition's Mass in Motion grant initiative and Hoosac Harvest.

At BArT, the fitness and athletic teachers were bringing back the school's community garden when Mass in Motion Program Director Amanda Chilson contacted them about it. The school was mainly using the garden to help teach wellness so teaming up with the Grow Extra was natural, the teachers said.

"This way everybody has a chance to get out and give back to the community," Heather Linscott, fitness teacher, said on Monday.

The school started a community garden about five years ago but over time it fell into disarray. According to Fitness and Athletic Director Jennifer Choquette, a co-worker who started the garden five years ago has become ill and bringing the garden back was a tribute to her. It also fits in with the school's education.

Choquette has developed a schedule for students to work in the garden and after the school year ends, she will take over the majority of the gardening with staff helping out.

A garden fits in line with the school's wellness education.
Hoosac Harvest started the program and is organizing volunteers to help transport the extra vegetables to the nearby food pantries as well as even help the gardeners pick the crops.

Hoosac Harvest is aimed at promoting locally grown food. It started by subsidizing shares at Community Supported Agriculture farms and has now taken on this project.

Mass in Motion jumped on board because it fits in with their goals. Mass in Motion is funded by a state Department of Public Health grant to promote healthy living.

"All of our work plans align with healthy living," Chilson said. "Hoosac Harvest is already here so there is no need to reinvent the wheel."

Mass in Motion will lend its expertise in helping coordinate and promote the program.

The crops will be given to the Friendship Center Food Pantry in North Adams, the Parish of Pope John Paul the Great in Adams and St. Patrick's Food Pantry in Williamstown.

Tags: agriculture,   food pantry,   gardens,   

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