Kids won’t remember their best day of YouTube

“We believe that nature makes kids healthier, happier and smarter.”

The words appear on page after page at the website of the Children & Nature Network, a national advocate for getting children out into nature. And though that does capture the essence of the organization’s driving purpose,the organization Continue reading

Telling it like it is about wood shop teacher

If you enter our shed at our Albany High School garden and look up and to the left, you’ll see a few remarks that the structure’s student builders left for the eventual users. Though the shed was essentially completed in June 2022, we’re just moving in now, 20 months later, and thus just noticing what the proud students wanted us to know.

And what a pleasure it is to see one saying that Art Erbe, who leads Albany High School’s construction technology program, “is the best teacher” and thanking him for being the writer’s teacher for three years. We would certainly add that Art is a wonderful partner of ours. Twice now he has guided his students in building sheds, measuring eight feet by 12 feet, for the Vegetable Project to use at its gardens. And twice now the finished products have met our expectations.

We funded these school projects because we needed storage space at our gardens at Albany High School and Stephen and Harriet Myers Middle School, but also because we want to create meaningful hands-on learning opportunities for Albany students.

 So, why the 20 months to move in? Well, let’s just say it was a learning experience for us as well, specifically in navigating building code compliance. And maybe add, as the Grateful Dead sang, “What a long strange trip it’s been.”

–Bill Stoneman

Buying seeds supports Vegetable Project work

Make this the year that you start your own garden, maybe fill a couple of planters on the front porch, or perhaps add a few square feet to that special space – for the beauty you’ll create, for the hope you’ll inspire and for the stewardship of the environment that we share. And please support the Vegetable Project when you do by buying High Mowing Organic Seeds from us from now until Friday, March 29.

Please click here for a printable list of our offering brochure and order form, or here for faster loading, invite a few friends to take a look with you and push those winter blues away with visions of warm spring breezes that are just around the corner. Please get orders to us at the Albany High School or Myers Middle School main offices, in an envelope marked “Vegetable Project.” Or mail to the Vegetable Project at 10 North Pine Ave., Albany 12203, with a check payable to the Vegetable Project. Either way, please drop a line the [email protected] and tell us to be on the lookout.

The Vegetable Project, which brings hands-on learning opportunities to more than 1,000 Albany students each year, receives half of all sales in this, our 13th almost annual seed sale fundraiser. You will have your seeds in time for the coming season’s planting. And you will be supporting our work to create even more doing and touching and tasting and experiencing in Albany schools, by providing us with funds for supplies, tools and equipment.

And rather donate the full cost of seeds or more? That’s okay, too. Just click on the Donate button at our web site to start your transaction.

High Mowing’s seeds are organic and free of genetically modified organisms, which we value. And based in Vermont, many of its seeds were raised in the Northeast, meaning they’re especially suited to thrive in our part of the world.

The Vegetable Project reaches out especially to kids with the greatest needs. These are kids in Albany schools who are challenging and disruptive, who do not respond well to being told “sit still in your chair” and “look up at the board.” We garden. We prepare tasty dishes with what we grow. And we teach about scientific method. But most of all, we engage kids. With full-fledged gardens at two Albany schools and programming at others, we connect with students in multiple ways: We lead a year-round after-school and summer evening Garden Club at Stephen and Harriet Myers Middle School. We bring intensely hands-on activity, like turning plastic gallon milk jugs into miniature greenhouses to a half dozen schools each winter. We host a work site for a city summer jobs program that gives high school-age students a first exposure to employment.

In addition, we are building development plans for an outdoor classroom at our middle school home, with a greenhouse, a shaded sitting area, a fruit tree orchard and naturalized space where science classes would conduct meaningful scientific investigations. The completed space should be as irresistible to art or history teachers as it is to science teachers, thus increasing kids’ time outdoors in fresh air and amid greenery, which research indicates supports wide ranging healthy outcomes.

Happy gardening. And please help us spread word about this great offer.

–Bill Stoneman

Learning how to extend northern growing season

One of the great challenges of school gardening in upstate New York is the mismatch between the school calendar and common notions of when the growing season starts and ends. Students aren’t in classes in July when tomato vines look bigger from one day to the next. And January temperatures are not exactly conducive to dividing up perennials.

We at the Vegetable Project, however, are making headway in our bid to redefine the growing season, so that it synchs up with the school calendar a bit better than some would think possible. You might actually say that we’re working to turn the period that begins January and runs through December into growing season, though we don’t expect to be doing quite everything that the word “gardening” implies when the daylight is short and the temperatures fall below freezing.

One initiative involves learning to build and learning to use “season-extending” fixtures, like small hoop Continue reading

Learn about winter sowing; join VegProj initiative

Want to learn how to turn a plastic gallon milk jug into a miniature greenhouse? Would you consider volunteering with the Vegetable Project team as we bring a burst of heart-pounding activity  – widely known as winter sowing – to more than 20 Albany schools classes between late January and early March?

Please join us at one of the following three hour-long training sessions, strictly for your own enjoyment or to prepare to participate in our third annual tour of the school district, bringing more intensive Continue reading

Offering garden bed sponsorship opportunities

The Vegetable Project, which leads hundreds upon hundreds of Albany students in getting their hands dirty each year, invites its friends to show their support for the organization’s research-based efforts by sponsoring a garden bed for the 2024 growing season. With gardens at Albany High School and Stephen and Harriet Myers Middle School and a partnership with the Continue reading

Opportunities await schools hesitant to compost

The New York State Food Donation and Food Scraps Recycling Law, adopted in 2019, requires businesses and institutions that generate an annual average of two tons of wasted food per week to donate excess edible food and recycling all remaining food scraps if they are within 25 miles of an organics recycler, such as a composting facility or anaerobic digester. But interestingly, while the law absolutely covers colleges, school systems serving kindergarteners through 12th graders are specifically exempt from the requirements.

Maybe the state Legislature, in its infinite wisdom, recognized that K-12 schools are already Continue reading

U.N. report reinforces VegProj concern big time 

We organized what we called an Invasive Species Workshop this summer at Myers Middle School with a general awareness that plants and animals from different parts of the world can really disturb stable ecosystems when they’re introduced to places where they don’t belong. And we organized the two-day activity with the conviction that teaching opportunities drawn from our Continue reading

Environmental project yields teaching opportunity

Sixth graders at Myers Middle School pulled a chunk of Purple loosestrife from soil around the Vegetable Project’s garden at the school on Thursday. The effort — and it was hard work — may not actually do much to curb the spread of the invasive plant that’s easy to spot along roadsides this time of year.

We’re okay with that, however, having organized a two-day Invasive Species Continue reading

Planting flower bulbs supports hands-on learning

If we can get your attention for a moment, we have an important reminder: The days will get shorter. And colder. Winter happens around here. Spring never comes as quickly as we’d like. Planting flower bulbs, however, helps us feel a bit better heading into the long chill. It gives us a great reason to stay outside in autumn’s cool days. 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. 13.

The Vegetable Project receives half of all proceeds raised by our sale of bulbs. And that means that you contribute to our programs that create hands-on learning opportunities for Albany kids when you buy bulbs through us. 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.

–Bill Stoneman