Students partner with restaurant to grow herbs

BRATTLEBORO — With help from Green Street School's new garden coordinator, Tara Gordon, students in kindergarten, first, and fourth grade are growing fresh cilantro for Yalla VT, a locally-owned Mediterranean restaurant on Main Street in Brattleboro.

The herbs are grown in three indoor classroom grow stands. So far, according to a news release, students have successfully grown, harvested, and supplied Yalla with one flavorful crop of cilantro, which Yalla traded for some of their fresh pita bread and cilantro spread (called skhug) that the kids enjoyed as a snack.

Students began by seeding both parsley and cilantro, which make a great duo because they are part of the same plant family and both are native to the Middle East.

To launch the project, Gordon brought in fresh cilantro, parsley leaves, and cilantro seeds for students to taste. The classes learned about the health benefits and other properties of these herbs, plant morphology and life cycle, germination and growth requirements, and how Yalla may be using them in their menus.

The second full batch of cilantro is now underway, and students are refining their growing techniques. This time around, rather than using the six-cell packs, they planted in larger rectangular plastic flats that will not dry out as quickly.

“With time and experimentation we would like to increase our growing capacity with alternating seeding for continuous harvesting while speeding up growth,” Gordon said. “Yalla would certainly like to buy from us, which could work out well once our productivity increases.”

The project encourages students to value nurturing plants while developing skills in plant cultivation, business, and production.

“We're investing in a new generation at Green Street School and it's fun to work with them,” said Yalla's owner, Zohar Arama. “We're thrilled to keep this collaboration going with the community.”

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