Engaging students who do not engage routinely

The Vegetable Project engaged 375 Albany students in outdoors hands-on learning opportunities in the first month of the new school year. We took 15 classes at Myers Middle School and Albany High School for touch-and-taste walk-arounds in our gardens, during which we encouraged kids to pluck tomatoes and beans and more and pop them right into their mouths. Ten classes at North Albany Middle School participated in a daylong celebration of doing and touching and tasting and experiencing that revolved around establishment of the new Friendship Orchard at the school. And we launched Continue reading

Building friendship by planting fruit trees at school

Calling seven fruit trees recently planted in front of North Albany Middle School the Friendship Orchard might be a bit aspirational. And not just because seven trees do not exactly suggest the word orchard. But also because only time will tell if last month’s planting by sixth graders at the school will lead to the kind of loving relationship that the Friendship Garden, from which the “orchard’s” name is taken, has with its surrounding community. But that is our hope, or shall we say aspiration, at the Vegetable Project. Knowing what a special place Continue reading

Busy days behind and ahead, for the students

Moving a shed 800 yards from Albany High’s Abrookin Career & Technical Center, where Art Erbe’s woodshop students built it back in the spring, to the Vegetable Project garden at Albany High School was the first order of business on Friday. The drive was a bit stressful, but nothing compared to picking it up and setting it down.

Then, about as soon as the shed was situated, the first of four of Joanne Germano’s environmental science classes arrived for a Continue reading

Soggy footing little problem on way to garden visit

The first group of eighth graders to visit our garden at Myers Middle School on Wednesday had to cross quite an expanse of very wet grass to reach the tomatoes and potatoes and other fare we wanted to show them. Buckets of rain fell late Tuesday. And the footbridge that usually provides the shortest path from the school to the garden is closed for urgent repairs.

Footwear definitely got wet. And some students minded.

All of the students, however, got, at minimum, a few minutes of the great powerful health-giving forces Continue reading

Support hands-on learning by planting flower bulbs

Heads up: The days will get shorter. And colder, in case you don’t remember. Winter happens around here. Spring never comes as quickly as we’d like. Planting flower bulbs, however, helps us feel a bit better about it. It gives us a great reason to stay outside in autumn’s chill. And then, it will provide the first burst of color in your garden in the spring. Even better, it does more than that when you buy the bulbs in our Flower Power Fundraiser now through Friday, Oct. 14.

The Vegetable Project receives half of all proceeds raised by our sale of bulbs. And that means that you contribute to our program to create hands-on learning opportunities for Albany kids when you buy bulbs. It means you support our work at teaching kids where their food comes from. It means that you support outdoor instruction. It means that you help us make a difference with kids who benefit from doing and touching and tasting and experiencing. And so much more.

Please click here to see the selection and place your order.

Hands-on learning for 1,100 students in school year

Creating hands-on learning opportunities is at the core of everything the Vegetable Project does. And we picked up the pace in the school year that is winding down. So much so that we thought our friends might be interested to know that we built real hands-on experiences with nearly 1,100 Albany schools students since September.

We build teaching and learning around doing and touching and Continue reading

Seeking help from friends with watering gardens

The Vegetable Project, as you may well know, is a volunteer group. And among the many pieces of what we do that we’re always eager for more help with is watering our gardens at Albany High School and Myers Middle School from now until the end of September, or maybe even the middle of October. Won’t you consider pitching in?

It would make a huge contribution to everything we do with and for kids.

So, we would be grateful for friends who sign up for dates and locations. But we also need/want to spend time with you, showing you the ropes, for at least the first time around. And that might take a bit of schedule coordination. So please reach out to Bill at thevegetableproject@gmail.com to say you’d like to find a Continue reading

Measuring performance of earthy lesson

The school district where we work, like the rest of the school world, puts a lot of time and energy into measuring performance and progress and analyzing the data that all that measurement produces.

The  measurement folks probably haven’t noticed our worm composting bin initiative in the high school environmental sciences classes and might not know how to measure it. But the “thank yous” that we get from students time and again seem like Continue reading

Shed project builds meaningfulness into learning

The garden shed construction you see in the accompanying pictures is happening in Art Erbe’s construction technologies classes at Albany High School’s Abrookin Career & Technical Center and is headed for the Vegetable Project’s garden just inside Albany High grounds by North Main Avenue. And we are so pleased! Indeed, the project is so important to us that we are funding it.

The obvious reason for our pleasure is that eight feet by 12 feet of storage space right at the garden will dramatically enhance our programming capability. We’ll have the right tools and supplies at hand when we need them, making everything about growing plants in the service of building teaching and learning around doing and touching and tasting and experiencing more likely to be effective.

But we could have achieved that end by buying something at a store.

Partnering with our Abrookin friends extends our endless pursuit of opportunities for doing and touching by creating what we suspect will be an especially meaningful project for the students who are involved. Meaningfulness is a crucial ingredient in student engagement that’s too often missing. So, if we are going to harp on the need to make school learning more meaningful, and we will, we are pleased to have accumulated the resources to fund this project and hopefully more after this one is completed.

Wouldn’t it be cool if students who build this shed note their role with pride when passing by in the years ahead? And wouldn’t it be good for all of us if participating in a job for a paying customer helps students grasp the importance of an education.

Thanks, Art, for making this happen.

–Bill Stoneman

Tonight: May 5 is Evening in the Garden at Myers

UPDATE ON THE EVENT: The event will be tonight, Thursday, May 5, and the weather looks beautiful and the plants are happy after Wednesday’s rain. Join us at the garden at Myers Middle School. Details below!

 The Vegetable Project’s fifth annual* Evening in the Garden is tonight (Thursday, May 5) Wednesday, May 4, at the garden at Myers Middle School. You won’t want to miss it. The food will be great. We’ll show you around the garden. Learn from demonstrations. Kids can pot up pansies, the perfect Mother’s Day gift.

The garden is behind the school building. 

We would be pleased if you would let us know that you are coming at Eventbrite or our Facebook event.

We would be grateful if you would stand up and be counted as a friend of our all-volunteer effort to create hands-on learning opportunities for Albany kids with great needs by becoming a member of the event’s honorary committee. We will include your name in an event program when you make a $25 contribution. Again, please visit Eventbrite.

Many thanks for 12 years of support. Please look for the Vegetable Project on Facebook, Instagram and Eventbrite for word of the fabulous local eateries that are contributing to this event. And please help us spread the word.

–Bill Stoneman

* Annual, except for a hiatus since September 2019, due, of course, to the Covid pandemic.