Garden party grows relationships at Kimberton Waldorf School

Photo by Heather Tyrrell Kimberton Waldorf School garden teacher Celia Martin takes community members on a tour of the school's garden.

KIMBERTON — Community members recently learned about the benefits of having a school garden during the Kimberton Waldorf School’s Garden Party.

The second annual event was held last Tuesday at the school’s garden building. Attendees had a brief tour of the school’s garden before the pouring rain came, enjoyed a breakfast that mainly came from the garden and learned about the school’s Garden-to-Kitchen Program.

While welcoming community members, KWS Director of Development Caitlin Elberson said the purpose of the event was to “bring people together who are interested in gardening and green businesses.”

Garden teacher Celia Martin gave more details about the class after leading a tour where attendees saw tomatoes, zucchini and other vegetables.

“Gardens are all the rage right now,” Martin said, adding that Owen J. Roberts School District has its own garden.

The garden class at Kimberton Waldorf School is part of the school’s curriculum. “I don’t know any other schools that do that,” she said.

Martin said overall students aren’t just sitting in the classroom, but are engaging in hands-on activities.

Third, fifth and sixth graders take garden classes once a week and seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth graders take classes twice a week throughout the year, Martin said.

Students not only maintain the garden, but also work to process the food.

“The students see the process through which really helps them connect to their food and shows where their food comes from,” Martin said.

Even in the colder months, garden students are hard at work. Martin said in November students prepare for winter and the annual craft fair. The garden program sells teas, spices and other items at the fair.

With some of the money raised at last year’s craft fair, the students sponsored a family at Salvation Army in Pottstown. They also used proceeds to help a program in Ghana that teaches the community how to can foods.

Martin said in Ghana the harvest comes in all at once and it makes it difficult for the residents to make it last.

Students understand the importance of canning because it is one of the lessons they learn in class, Martin said.

In February, students have the task of pruning the fruit trees to prepare them for spring.

“It’s a science and an art,” Martin said.

Another part of the garden class is suiting up to take care of the beehives. It’s not an easy task for some.

“Some (students) are timid and some really want to do it,” Martin said.

A 2012 graduate of Kimberton Waldorf School Carly Landis shared her experiences of working in the garden. Landis said she opened a beehive with her own hands.

Working in the garden has not only taught her about gardening, but also about life.

“Organic farming is important,” Landis said. “But there’s something else just as important: respect for ourselves and respect for the world we live in.”

The garden is on Facebook: www.facebook.com/kimbertonwaldorfschoolgarden.

Food Manager Karen Flores and volunteers prepare the school lunches which mainly come from the garden or local community supported agricultures.

Flores said everything is made from scratch and the meals are mostly vegetarian.

She said the kitchen started in 1996 when some parents made pizza for children.

Flores said students help prepare meals for grade specific events. She said seventh graders make hoagies to sell for field day and fifth graders prepare Spinach Pie and Greek Salad for The Pentathlon, a Greek Games day that involvesfive other Waldorf Schools.

This year, students are offered a kitchen elective class where they will prepare meals for the school lunches.

Flores said a class was offered to people in need at Kimberton Waldorf School in which they were taught how to prepare vegetables for meals.

In addition to hearing about the gardening program, attendees also had a chance to introduce themselves and speak about their organization or business. Attendees in attendance included Cynthia Gale from BarberGale, Bob Steininger and Caroline Black from Triskeles, Seth Bacon spoke on behalf of Green Warrior Farms, Susan Hess from Farm at Coventry and Jahan Tavangar from Coffee for Water.