Happy chickens, happy kids keep waste from landfills

By Laurie Caswell Burke
The old adage, “Actions speak louder than words” is a familiar mantra as we explore the range of environmental initiatives taking place at local schools. Students, parents, teachers, and administrators are working together to decrease carbon footprints by reducing energy costs and also modeling how actions can be replicated in homes and businesses.
With the support of Chittenden Solid Waste District (CSWD), Shelburne Community School (SCS) joins 26 schools in Chittenden County currently repurposing organic material as compost or feed for chickens. CSWD provides containers, posters, and advice on how to implement food recovery in a school setting. “The biggest challenge is sustainability,” says Jessica Sankey, CSWD outreach coordinator who stressed the importance of parent and community volunteers.
Under the leadership of John Madden, the 5th grade Student Leadership Council (SLC) distributed classroom compost buckets to all classrooms. Scraps are collected and deposited daily into the compost tumblers on site at the school. The students created a video to promote composting and have posted it on the SLC website (found through SCS school information).
There is a new program in the school cafeteria, coined “Table to Farm.” Parents and volunteers collect up to 70 lb. of food waste per day and then deliver it to New Village Farm for livestock feed. On Fridays, they have orchestrated a coordinated effort of volunteers who help students scrape their lunch leftovers into a tote to feed the chickens and to contribute to the composting process on the farm. The goal is to implement these efforts on a regular daily basis next fall.
The children are really enthusiastic about reducing landfill deposits and feeding the animals at the neighboring farm. New Village Farm’s Michaela Ryan also hosts many field trips, summer camps, and garden efforts with SCS students. It is a win win for all and it is clearly making an impact and reducing waste.
Volunteers Lisa Williams and Cathy Townsend coordinate this effort. The key to continuing success is a steady stream of volunteers, and more help is always needed. For more information, or to volunteer, email Williams at lisavt@hotmail.com.

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