Open Mike Show Tonight: HHS to Submit Produce to Topsfield Fair

Nancy Burke, right, and student Taylor Warren in the Haverhill High School garden. Photograph courtesy of Massachusetts Farm to School Project.

Haverhill High School paraeducator Nancy Burke appears on WHAV’s Open Mike Show tonight to discuss the school’s garden, fall harvest and plans to submit produce for judging at Topsfield Fair, America’s oldest agricultural fair.

The Haverhill High School Learning Garden began in 2012 with professional development and a grant from Massachusetts Teachers Association to support farm-to-school work. The National Education Association developed the pilot program to address student obesity rates using student engagement in school gardens and “helping students prepare healthy, nutritious dishes for themselves and each other.” The project provides technical assistance and resource materials to groups engaged in school garden programs through a NEA grant to the MTA.

“There is no better feeling than cheering as a student pulls a carrot from the ground and holds it up like he or she has found gold,” says Burke, an education support professional member of MTA, a NEA affiliate.

This Wednesday, Burke and her students will harvest their stew and salsa gardens and prepare their best items for submission to the fair. Policymakers and lawmakers have been invited in an effort to gain support for more accessible school gardens, both statewide and nationwide.

A year ago, Burke was one of 23 nominees nationwide to receive a Bammy Award, given to outstanding members of the education community from the Academy of Education Arts and Sciences.