Students at the Galvin Middle School recently planted twenty vegetable and herb plants donated by Wakefield Co-operative Bank. The Teaching Kids to Grow initiative was established as a way to teach students how to cultivate crops and provide fresh produce to the Wakefield Interfaith Food Pantry.
The idea for Teaching Kids to Grow came to fruition after Chad Moore, VP of Personal Banking at Wakefield Co-operative Bank, returned from a volunteer day with Habitat for Humanity. Moore asked the bank’s Personal Banking team to brainstorm community projects they would like to participate in. Unaware of the four beautiful, raised beds in the rear of the newly renovated Galvin Middle School, Janet Rivers, Business Development Manager, suggested building raised garden beds to grow and donate fresh food for the Wakefield Interfaith Food Pantry. After finding out about the beds, she approached the school in hopes of finding a group of students willing to collaborate on the project.
Cindy Fitzpatrick, a teacher at the Galvin Middle School and also a Wakefield Co-operative Bank employee, facilitated the initiative and soon after, Mrs. Fusulo’s class eagerly dug in, cultivated the soil with organic lobster compost and peat moss, and had quite a bit of fun planting the crops. In order to maintain the garden, summer classes take turns watering the plants and bank employees volunteer their time watering at night and on the weekends.
Teaching Kids to Grow has resulted in a unique partnership between students of the Galvin Middle School, the food pantry, and employees of Wakefield Co-operative Bank.
“It’s my belief that it is most important to teach our children the importance of helping others,” said Rivers. “You can help your neighbors in many small ways, and building community and social awareness in young people is one of them. The joy they will receive when they donate the finish product to the food pantry will leave a lasting impression.”
“This is what Wakefield is all about. Helping our neighbors through innovative, fun, educational projects,” said Maureen Miller, Director of the Wakefield Interfaith Food Pantry. “We are so grateful to the Wakefield Co-op Bank, the teachers, and students for coming up with this great idea and making it happen.”
The planting got a late start due to the final stages of the school’s construction completion, but Rivers has high hopes to expand the program next spring. Other schools have already approached the bank to partner up to have gardens in their yards , and she also hopes to bring awareness to the pantry’s Grow A Row program, in which residents allocate one row of their own personal garden to donate to the pantry.
“I am very excited about this project, as it is a fabulous opportunity to develop an outdoor classroom with parental involvement and provide hands-on-learning for students, teachers and the community,” Rivers continued. “Other communities have programs where both beginning and experienced volunteers work together to grow nutritious produce, increase their gardening knowledge, and enjoy physical activity with their families while supporting their local food pantries, so the Teaching Kids to Grow initiative is a true asset to our community.”