Category Archives: Uncategorized

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 tasting and experiencing because it works. It engages students who do not buy into what school is offering because it is inherently meaningful. And it makes a deeper impression than learning that builds on repetition and memorization.

Gardening – and we do lots of gardening – is simply a great vehicle for all of that!

So what have we done with more than 1,000 Albany students? We took classes out to our gardens for touch-and-taste walkarounds. We set up worm bins in environmental science classes to support exploration of decomposition of organic material and recycling of nutrient. We planted tulip and daffodil bulbs. We grew salad greens on windowsills and made salads with the produce we grew. We led an after-school Garden Club for the 12th year. We commissioned wood shop students to build us a shed. And we shepherded 500 students through turning 500 plastic milk jugs into miniature greenhouses in March.

Of course, we have so much more to do. Execution of nearly everything we did can be improved, most of all to ensure that learning, beyond doing and touching and tasting and experiencing, really does occur. For example, although tactile experiences – with a cordless drill, dirt and tiny seeds – held student attention when we made the mini greenhouses, we could have taught about how the greenhouse structure works and we could have made use of plants that we started from seed. We could have set up the activity by explaining that a greenhouse, with clear or translucent sides, captures the sun’s warmth and holds it inside for the benefit of plants. We could have organized tastings around plants that grew in our greenhouses or moved plants into garden beds and pots, which would have made the entire project feel so much more meaningful.

So we will set our sights higher. And with continued support from our friends and the community, we will tackle these and other opportunities to broaden and deepen our reach and strengthen our offering. We think our work makes a difference, especially for kids with great needs.

–Bill Stoneman

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.

 

Thankful for newspaper report, hands-on volunteers

A number of thanks are in order as we wrap up our milk jug greenhouse project, which without doubt was our biggest undertaking since we started digging in the dirt with Albany students in 2009.

A big one goes to Leigh Hornbeck, a Times Union writer/reporter, for capturing so well what the Vegetable Project does and what we’ve been talking about for many years. Fairly sure we have something important to offer to Albany kids, we are always eager for a wider swath of the community to know about us. Please read here from Sunday’s paper.

Then, we are indebted to the amazing team of volunteers who guided every Continue reading

Touching experiences central to greenhouse project

We will lead more than 500 Albany schools students through turning plastic gallon milk jugs into miniature greenhouses by the time we wrap up next week. A number of small lessons are embedded in the project – such about what a greenhouse is and how it works, the incredible diversity of nature and the needs of seeds. Maybe even more important than these, however, are the tactile experiences that we are Continue reading