Imagine a school where students spend a portion of their day actively involved in growing fruits and vegetables in a school garden, then harvesting the produce and preparing nutritious meals. This is the type of school environment the Agrarian Adventure is in the process of creating at Tappan Middle School in Ann Arbor, Mich.
This project is based on the “Edible Schoolyard” program operated at the Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Berkeley, Calif., a school garden program that incorporates growing fresh produce on school grounds with the integration of school curriculum and other strategies, such as farm-to-school education.
A W.K. Kellogg Foundation grant is helping make this vision at Tappan Middle School a reality, says Todd Wickstrom, managing partner of Zingerman’s Deli and founder of Slow Food Huron Valley. The grant was given to provide funding for the strategic planning phase of the project, and that’s exactly what has been taking place over the past several months.
“I made it very clear in the beginning that what I was interested in was not merely a garden, but a revolution,” says Wickstrom. After spending several hours discussing their vision of the project, Wickstrom says he and Gary Court, principal of Tappan Middle School, were convinced that, “we wanted to create a vision that was bigger than us and bigger than the school, something that would cause us to draw on the resources of the community around us.”
They are assembling a work group comprised of staff, students and parents. Next, they will create an advisory board of community leaders and experts: gardeners, educators, farmers, teachers, and parents, with the specific task of providing leadership and direction to the project. That work will then be presented to a larger community symposium of landscape architects, chefs, students, teachers, school board administration, farmers and more, to help finalize the mission, vision and principles and to chart the course for the first two years of the project.
For more information regarding the Agrarian Adventure, contact Todd Wickstrom at (734) 663-0974.