Xaedyn Stevens, grade 7 and Dalton Neptune, grade 6, with Brian Giles, teacher and school garden coordinator, preparing the ground for planting. They will be planting dozens of fruit and fruit shrubs in their School Garden and Orchard Project to implement a sustainable food program for the community and school cafeteria. (Photo by Pierre Little)
By Natalie Boomer
Indian Township School has begun planting an orchard and a garden to provide food for the children at school, as well as people of the community. Last week, 6th and 7th graders gathered outside to help throughout the day, and the rest of the children joined in shortly after. “So you can see we have a greenhouse, and we’re putting a community garden there. We have a three sisters garden and four raised beds over there. We just installed a pond for fish and today we’re putting in the orchard which is going to add to the whole process,” said Brian Giles of Indian Township School. Allie Cook of FoodCorps came in to help plant apple, peach, and pear trees. “FoodCorps is a part of AmeriCorps and they provide food services to schools and communities to help teach nutrition and gardening,” said Giles. ReTree Us brought in 28 of the fruit trees and 60 fruiting and nut shrubs. “We travel around the state and help young people plant fruit trees as a way to think about ways to help the environment and also be more self-sufficient and grow healthy food that doesn’t have to travel long distances,” said Richard of ReTree Us. Wade Lola of the Tribal Council helped dig out the pond himself. “I think it’s an awesome idea. I think the kids are really excited, I’m excited and the community is excited,” he said. Although they are still thinking about what kind of fish will go in the pond, they plan to add tadpoles, frogs and plants that are native to the area as well. “The whole goal here is to have a self-sustaining cafeteria,” said Giles. “So we’re growing as much food as we can for the cafeteria and to provide food for the community.” Tribal housing came in to install a fence that was provided by the Tribal Chief, the school held fundraisers for materials and for ReTreeUs to come in, community members volunteered, the Coast of Maine provided compost, and various donations were made by local businesses including Walmart, Princeton Variety and others. “I just wanted to say that we are very proud of Indian Township School and our food sovereignty and food security initiatives. I’ve been happy and blessed to see the community, the administration, the school board, the tribal council, the chief, local businesses all come out to help us with the programs. We’re trying to teach these kids how to take care of themselves so they can take care of themselves now and in the future,” said Giles.