"Seed to Plate" Program and Ambrose Elementary School
Seed-to-Plate is a hands-on food-education program created by Vittorio Ettore, Chef Owner of Bistro 5 Restaurant in West Medford, MA.
By engaging schoolchildren in the cultivation, study and consumption of food they grow themselves, Seed to Plate creates a lasting connection between children and their food. Seed to Plate teaches children about the food we eat, where it comes from, and the resources required to grow it. The goal of the program is to foster healthy eating habits, and a lifelong appreciation for fresh foods.
By working in the Seed to Plate garden, located in Winchester's Sandborn House Historical and Cultural Center, students experience the unique satisfaction of planting, nurturing and harvesting food as well as the environmental benefits of composting and recycling. Visits from local farmers and area chefs round provide new perspectives on growing and using fresh foods. To connect lessons learned in the field with the classrooms, teachers are incorporating plant growth charting into math, and the effect of different soils into science curriculum. The program culminates in an annual Parent's Dinner featuring ingredients from the garden lovingly prepared by students and Chef Ettore.
The Seed to Plate program is available to fourth and fifth grade students at Winchester's Ambrose School. The program is made possible by Vittorio Ettore, the generous donations and support of Ambrose School parents, and a grant from the WFEE organization.
To expose children to an understanding of the full cycle of a plant: from germinating a seed to growing and nurturing it to maturation.
To educate children about how to harvest the garden’s bounty and turn it into food for the table.
To encourage students (and their parents) to think about the importance of standards for preparing and eating everyday food that is tasty, healthy, and nutritional.
I firmly believe that when children have this experience and share it with others, their appreciation and knowledge of plant science and the environment will grow. More importantly, their eating habits will change positively to address the increasing problem of childhood obesity.
The Ambrose School garden will be located at The Sanborn House Historical and Cultural Center, in Winchester Massachusetts.
The 4th grade students at Ambrose will plant herbs and vegetable seeds inside the school. The students will observe the seed germinate and grow into a small plant. At the appropriate time and temperature, children will bring their plant to the garden and place it in the soil. Regularly the students will take “field trips” to the garden, where they will take notes and pictures and keep a log of the growth and health of their plants. Experiments can be done as a science project, such as the effect of adding compost to only one bed (or half of a bed) and then observing the difference in growth and the final fruit.
Composting and recycling
The pots for germinating the seeds inside the school will be made from old newspaper the children can bring from their homes. Once the plant reaches the desired height and the climate outdoors is favorable, children will transport their plants outside and plant their newspaper “pots” in the soil. The paper will disintegrate and become part of the soil.
For one week each child will bring fruits and vegetable scraps from their home to create compost. We will use the compost in some beds or parts of beds (which will be labeled), but not in others, so students can observe the difference.
Local chef participation
Throughout the growing year, I will invite local chefs to speak about the importance of locally sourced food and the additional creativity gained from using it.
To address the garden on a bigger scale, I will bring farmers in to speak to students about local agriculture.
To be hands-on and explore the possibilities of using our garden, we will host a “Parent Annual Dinner” in September. The children who have worked in the garden in the school year will now be entering the fifth grade, and they will harvest and cook under the guidance of Chef Vittorio Ettore.
The Ambrose Cookbook
Every year we will continue to replace and add new crops to our garden and hold our final dinner to celebrate the garden’s success. All dinner menus will be recorded in a book to eventually become “The Ambrose Cookbook".