Best of America

Pam Sloane’s Green Initiative for Education (GIVE)

Pam Sloane©2011 Nathaniel Welch/Redux
Our hero: Pam Sloane, 67

Where she lives: Old Greenwich, Connecticut

How she helps: Growing the school garden movement

When Pam Sloane, a French teacher at Dolan Middle School in Stamford, Connecticut, was offered the chance to plant a small garden on school grounds in 2008, she jumped at it. So much so that she sort of overdid it. In her enthusiasm, and with the help of the school garden club, she put in more than 20 different fruits, vegetables, and herbs, including strawberry and tomato plants, potatoes, and parsley. “If someone gave us a packet of seeds, we planted them,” says Sloane. When the plants grew, she says, “the tall ones shielded the short ones from the sun.”

Nevertheless, the garden managed to be a huge success. The harvest was divided between the kids’ homes and the school’s kitchen, where Sloane used it to teach cooking classes. “You know you’ve done something when middle schoolers are excited about vegetable soup,” says Sloane. Encouraged, she launched the Green Initiative for Vegetables in Education (GIVE) last year to inspire nearby schools to start gardens. “Before I knew it, 20 schools had contacted me,” she says. In her director’s role, Sloane advises the schools on plotting seedbeds and helps them hunt down discounted supplies. City and local tree services donate and deliver compost and wood chips, and private donations make up the rest.

“Several people have said that if I hadn’t started GIVE, their school garden wouldn’t have happened,” says Sloane, who learned to garden during summers spent on a farm. “To me, it’s all about helping kids appreciate what the land does for us.”

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