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A student at Westminster Center School harvests kale during the school’s recent Farm and Field Day.

Town and Village

Westminster Center School celebrates Farm and Field Day

WESTMINSTER—Stuffing scarecrows, painting pumpkins, cooking lunch over hot coals, and playing musical chair.

These are not your everyday school activities, but this is how the students at Westminster Center School spent the morning of Oct. 29, when they celebrated their first Farm and Field Day.

According to a news release, students from kindergarten through grade six took part in six activities crafted to link them to the outdoors and celebrate the harvest season.

In addition to the excitement of scarecrows, pumpkins, and musical chairs (renamed “Boo-tiful Music!” in honor of the holiday), students went on a story walk, harvested kale from the garden for lunch, watched working farm equipment in action, and watched as the chicken for their kale salad cooked over coals in the outdoor cinder block kitchen, the “Cinder Cafe,” built especially for this event.

Despite the frigid temperatures, students were excited to be outside.

“The best part is you get to have fresh air!” said Scarlett, a second grader. “I’m having fun! It’s very fun!” said first grader Anthony Lakeside. And fourth grader Jenny said her favorite activity of the day was harvesting kale. “You get to peel all the leaves off!”

Mandy Walsh, the school librarian and garden coordinator, said she was inspired by a similar event at Newbrook Elementary School in Newfane a few years ago. Walsh has been growing the Farm to School program at Westminster for years and said she was excited to host her first Farm and Field Day.

“We are so lucky to have the resources of gardens, animals, woods, and fields, and we live in a historically agricultural community,” she said. “The day was about celebrating what’s around us, coming together as a school community, and being joyful.”

In reflecting on the success of the event, Walsh said that “I think that in the big picture, the best student learning happens when students get to be outside, working together, trying new things (food and activities). These are the days our students remember with fondness when they think back on their elementary school days.”

The Farm to School Team at Westminster says it is already planning future events and is brimming with ideas of building on the tradition they’ve started.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #641 (Wednesday, December 1, 2021). This story appeared on page A5.

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