NORWAY — Picking a vegetable “buddy” isn't as easy as it sounds.
At least that's what six fifth-grade students from the Oxford Elementary School learned recently in their science curriculum at the Roberts Farm school gardens on Roberts Road.
They were asked to use all their senses in making their selection, then draw it for other students to guess what it was. Afterward they picked it, if feasible, and tasted it.
“I wanted to choose a pepper because I wanted to eat a pepper,” Brittani Giasson said as she smelled it.
John Tillman chose Swiss chard because it “looks cool.”
For Sadie Hooker it was a pumpkin bud because it “sounded prickly and smelled sweet.”
The activity is part of an ongoing science curriculum for fifth-grade classes from Oxford and Otisfield. They come to the historic farm three days a week to tend the gardens and learn.
The farm is owned by the Western Foothills Land Trust, which this year joined with the Oxford Hills School District to establish the school gardens and outdoor classrooms.
“It's a great resource in this area,” Pat Carson, Oxford Hills School District health coordinator, said.
The farm has two acres dedicated to school gardens and greenhouses. So far, 1,400 pounds of food have been harvested and sent to the Oxford County Harvest for Hunger program. Some of it also goes to help supplement the Oxford Hills School District lunch program.
The students work with Food Corps service member Dan Rennie.
“They love trying things,” Rennie said.
He said students checked their heart rate, number of steps taken each day and other health indicators. The heart rate instrument was purchased through the school district's PEP grant and is all part of interwoven health, science, math and other curriculum taught through the work at the school gardens.
Once the fall harvest is done, students will use the greenhouses to grow crops such as lettuce and spinach in the winter. Plans are to start an apple orchard at the farm eventually.