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Seed to Harvest Garden Updates

Volunteers Needed for the 2020 School Garden Season

posted Mar 2, 2020, 9:02 AM by Kristina Fernandes

Our Seed to Harvest school garden is going on it's 8th season and with your help, we can make it our best yet! The STH program was put in place to help our children become healthy adults who eat their fruit and vegetables, know the basics of growing food, and contribute to a thriving community. Each year, we put on at least 1-2 one-hour lesson/planting sessions with every class at Ben-Hem. Each grade focuses on a different plant and growing topic ranging from the parts of the plant to pollination and photosynthesis. Students love their time in the garden and take pride in the plants that they grow each year. We keep lessons interactive and try to get the kids outside as much as possible.

If you have time this spring, here are just a few of the biggest volunteer needs that we have:

  • STH Program Co-Chair - Are you a planner/organizer with a passion for teaching kids about the outdoors? This may be the opportunity you've been looking for! Parent, Krissy Fernandes, has been running the STH Program for the past 6 years but has only 1 year left at Ben-Hem. We need someone who can shadow Krissy this season to learn the ins and outs of the program and can work to take a leadership role in the 2021 season. A large part of the program is defined and documented (so you don't have to reinvent the wheel) but there is plenty of room for you to be creative and make it your own.
  • Grade-Level Lesson Leaders - Do you like working with kids? Do you want an excuse to get in the classroom and become more involved in your students school experience? This may be a great fit for you! Pick a grade and we will train you so you can lead/deliver the lesson content. Don't worry, our lessons are not difficult. If you know the parts of a plant, the things plants need to grow, and the difference between dirt and sand, you have the qualifications needed. You will need to be available to deliver lessons during the school day.
  • Lesson Helpers - Even if you aren't comfortable leading a lesson, you can still help. We need volunteers to set-up the materials for the planting sessions, help students follow directions and ask questions during the hands on activities to spark their interest and get them excited about the garden. You will need to be available to help with lessons during the school day but can choose the class(es) that fit your schedule.
  • Garden Helpers - If you can't help out during the school day, but still want to get involved, ask to be put on our volunteer distribution list. We will send out information about tasks that need to be completed in the garden, garden clean-up events, etc. Most of the help needed can be completed at any time (during the week or on the weekend) and can be done yourself or as a family. No prior gardening experience is needed.
If you are interested in any or all of these opportunities, email

Want to learn more before you commit? Join us for a Seed to Harvest Meet & Greet (dates and times to be announced soon) or email Krissy at You can also find out more on our website or social media pages.

March 5, 2019 - 2019 Garden Season Kick-off Meeting

posted Mar 18, 2019, 5:32 PM by Kristina Fernandes

We are so happy to kick-off the 2019 Garden Season!  On March 5, a handful of Seed to Harvest parent volunteers met to discuss goals for the season, ideas for improvement, and to welcome new parents to the program.  A second Kick-off meeting is scheduled for Thursday, March 21 to accommodate volunteers who were unable to attend the day-time meeting.
  • We discussed the goals for this year:
    • Modify grade-level planting/curriculum to ensure that all plants are able to be harvested prior to the end of the 2019 school year.  Also, change the grade 3 curriculum to cover pollinators (especially butterflies) to fit into the new science curriculum.  Kindergarten will now plant Legumes (Sugar Snap Peas/Green Beans), First grade will plant Brassica (Kale/Radishes), Second grade will continue to plant Carrots (and we will maybe add Beets), Third grade will plant flowers and manage the Butterfly Garden, and Fourth will still plant potatoes.
    • Work on cultivating our volunteer group and train parents on delivering the grade-level curriculum.  Possibly host in-person training sessions and/or record an online training session for each grade.  Also suggested is the creation of sub-committees with volunteer ownership (Grade Level, Volunteers, Garden Maintenance, etc).  Is it possible to get volunteers from middle school or high school?  ASAP?  Spread the word to incoming Kindergarten parents via tours at the meet & greet.
    • Define areas of ownership in the garden program and find volunteers for each
    • Organize the grade-level materials to make it easier for volunteers to find and prepare for classes
  • We will maintain a garden task list at the school (in the new STH Work Area) so that volunteers can see what needs to be done when they come in on their own or as a group.
  • Schedule weekly gardening times where volunteers can come and work with the more experienced committee members.
  • Set up a watering schedule for the Grow Tower and Greenhouse/Living Lab (get parents to volunteer for each day of the week)
  • We won't be making any major changes to the garden this year (we just replaced the beds last year), but there are a few things left over from last season:
    • Build the two remaining raised beds under the Kindergarten windows.
    • Build tiered bed for strawberries and cut back/train raspberries
    • (Finally) connect the greenhouse gutters to the Living Lab rain barrels
    • Move remaining dirt from pile to the beds (especially the flower beds under the first grade windows)
    • Clean the weed pile near STH sign, rake out dirt and plant grass seed
    • Clean out and organize the sheds in the garden and Living Lab
    • Organize STH materials in Teacher Work Area
    • Go through excess supplies in garden and get rid of anything no longer needed
    • Clean-up edges on benches in garden
    • Trim weed barrier under garden and rake out stones throughout
    • Assemble flower bed around STH 
    • Clean-up Living Lab/Greenhouse area
    • Repair Living Lab shade structure
Since the May 5th meeting, progress has been made in getting the classroom planting supplies organized.  The PTO even cleared a space for the Seed to Harvest committee to use for storage and lesson preparation.

The 2019 Ben-Hem Garden Season is About to Begin!

posted Feb 14, 2019, 1:12 PM by Kristina Fernandes   [ updated Feb 14, 2019, 1:13 PM ]


We are very excited to get the 2019 garden season going and we really hope you are too! The Seed to Harvest school garden project helps children become healthy adults who eat their fruit and vegetables, know the basics of growing food, and contribute to a thriving community.

Founded in 2012, the Seed to Harvest garden is an outdoor classroom for our students. It boasts over 12 raised planter beds behind the school and a greenhouse and 6 more planter beds in one of the school's courtyards. Each year, students participate in a garden based curriculum, plant seeds or seedlings, help to maintain the garden, and harvest the fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers that are grown.

The garden program is maintained through the efforts of students, parents and community members. Everyone is invited to get involved.

If you would like to help out with the garden this year, in any capacity, please complete this Google Volunteer Form. NO EXPERIENCE IS NECESSARY!

Feel free to check out our Twitter page or the Ben-Hem PTO Website for information on our previous seasons. If you have any questions, please email

2019 Seed to Harvest Volunteer Form

The 2017 Garden Season is About to Begin!

posted Apr 8, 2017, 1:46 PM by Kristina Fernandes

Classroom Planting Sessions start Monday, April 10.  We are very excited for the garden season to start!  It has been a long winter and we are ready to get outside and get dirty.

The Seed to Harvest plan for this year is below (click to enlarge):

This year, we will continue the grade level planting that we began last year.  This year the plants and lessons assigned to each grade are:

GradePlant TypeGarden ConceptSecondary Garden ConceptNutrition ConceptCore Concepts
KindergartenFlowersParts of a seed and how they growPlant PartsEating a RainbowGarden Words, Addition
FirstCabage FamilyWhat plants need to growPlant parts that we eatEat Your GreensGarden Words
SecondCarrot FamilySoil (Types of soil, what plants need)Root StudyHealthier Food ChallengeMeasurement, Addition
ThirdMarrow FamilyCompostingGarden MappingGarden Food CriticsVolume
FourthPotato FamilyPlant FamiliesPhotosynthesisFoods used in Cultural CelebrationsVolume
ACCESSHerbsInsects: Cycles and garden bugs (Friend or Foe?)Plant HistoryHealthier Food ChallengeGarden Words
ASAPPea and Bean Family

There are many ways for parent and student volunteers to get involved in the garden this year.  Check out the volunteer opportunities page for a listing of where you can help.

The STH Living Lab is open for business!

posted Sep 18, 2015, 3:11 PM by Kristina Fernandes   [ updated Sep 18, 2015, 3:15 PM ]

In November 2014, the Natick Education Foundation awarded the Ben-Hem Seed to Harvest committee with a $4,000 grant to build a living lab in one of our school's courtyards.  The greenhouse and elevated raised beds were ordered right away and arrived at the start of spring 2015.  The raised beds were in place before the end of the school year thanks to the help of parents and students.  Although the manufacturer claimed it could be put together in two days, the greenhouse wound up taking a lot longer to assemble.  But with the hard work and persistence of our parent volunteers, the roof was raised and the structure was in place before the 2015-2016 school year began.

From the beginning, the intent of the Living Lab was to create an outdoor space that could be used by teachers to hold classes, do experiments, and get messy.  This week, we began getting students in the space to do just that.  The Seed to Harvest committee is sponsoring several fall classes and activities for Ben-Hem classrooms.  On Friday, September 18, 2015, we had four different classrooms in the Living Lab learning about carrots, worms and lettuce.  In the next week we will have 15 more classes out there participating in outdoor activities focused on healthy eating, gardening, science and fun.

If you would like to get involved in any of these activities, please contact

The Grand Opening of the STH Living Lab will be October 6, 2015 at the first PTO meeting of the year starting at 7:00 pm.  Parents, teachers and administrators are invited to experience the space firsthand, grab a refreshment and mingle with others in our community.




2015 Summer Activities Schedule

posted Jun 25, 2015, 3:46 PM by Kristina Fernandes   [ updated Jun 25, 2015, 4:06 PM ]

All Seed to Harvest Summer Activities are FREE and open to Ben-Hem families and their friends.  Please sign-up if you plan on attending.  This is not a firm commitment that you will attend, but it helps us plan for supplies, and you get email reminders as the date of the event approaches.

Not sure?  Check out pictures from the 2014 Summer Activities line-up to see what you are missing.

 Wed., July 1 @ 1:00 PMBubble Fun & Sidewalk Art
Come make giant bubbles, snake bubbles, and more!

 Tue., July 7 @ 4:30 PMRainbows in the Garden
Sponsored by Gardengate Academy in Natick. Come enjoy the garden and make a rainbow craft.

 Wed., July 29 @ 9:30 AMStories & Fun with Ms. Craig and Friends
Bring a blanket to sit on and come listen to a few summertime stories and afterward enjoy fun craft activities.

 Thu., August 13 @ 4:30 PMBike Wash
Bring your bike to ride around the school and wash it, and yourself, in our drive-thru sprinklers.

 Thu., August 20 @ 7:00 PMMovie in the Garden
Bring a blanket and enjoy a movie outside in the garden. Snacks to be provided. Movie to be announced as we get closer to the date.

 Wed., August 26 @ 4:30 PMGarden Paintings
Sponsored by Palettes in Natick. Come paint a picture of our garden in full bloom. Canvases, paint and brushes will be provided. Be sure to wear something you don't mind getting dirty.

Announcing Seed to Harvest Grant Wins!

posted Feb 18, 2015, 7:29 PM by Kristina Fernandes

While the planting season is over, the Seed to Harvest Committee is still hard at work preparing for next year.  One of our first priorities was to apply for several garden grants to help support garden improvements for the 2015-2016.  We are thrilled to announce that we have been awarded $6,000 in grant funds!

Whole Kids Foundation - School Garden Grant
Seed to Harvest was approved for a $2,000 grant!!
Thank you to Rebecca Hall for submitting
Funds will go toward general garden expenses

Natick Education Foundation (NEF) Grant
Ben-Hem was approved for a $4,000 grant!!
Funds will go toward putting a greenhouse and “Living Lab” educational garden in the big courtyard.

2013-2014 Season Wrap-Up

posted Feb 18, 2015, 7:22 PM by Kristina Fernandes

After a great year, the Seed to Harvest program wrapped up the season with some exciting fall activities.

Class Scarecrows
This fall, all classes at Ben-Hem were given the opportunity to make scarecrows to watch over the fall plantings in the Seed to Harvest garden.  Six classes stepped forward and created these colorful and creative garden helpers.

Potato Harvesting
Last year, students planted red and gold potatoes in cages in the back of the Seed to Harvest garden.  It was fun to watch them grow over the summer.  In September, several classes had the opportunity to harvest and count the potato yield.  They found 53 of them ranging in size from as small as a pea, to the size of a fist.  We also had the chance to talk a bit about how potatoes grow.

Fall Harvest Donation
Thanks to the help of our students, we were able to plant a fall crop and donate a box full of veggies to the Natick Service Council. The veggies were harvested by Ms. Letovsky's 2nd grade class and included celery, Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, kale and herbs. The NSC was very excited to receive fresh produce and offered it at the next day's Food Pantry.


Announcing STH Summer Activities!

posted Jun 7, 2014, 6:06 PM by Kristina Fernandes   [ updated Aug 12, 2014, 7:17 PM ]

Seed to Harvest Summer Activities

The garden will be in full bloom this summer! Come enjoy the color, smells and tastes of our school garden by participating in one or more of these fun activities. All activities are free. No registration is needed (except for Rubber Duck Parade). More information and times will be available on soon.

July 1 @ 4:30p: Bubble Fun & Sidewalk Art

Come make giant bubbles, snake bubbles, and more!

July 7 @ 4:30p: Rubber Duck Parade
Decorate or dress-up your Rubber Duck before-hand and come show it off in our Rubber Duck Parade around the garden.  We will also have tracks set up so that kids can race ducks against each other.

Go to to register.  We will deliver a Rubber Duck to you at least one week prior to the event.

July 30 @ 4:30p: Story Hour with Mrs. Wraight
Bring a blanket to sit on and come enjoy a few of Mrs. Wraight’s favorite summertime stories.

August 7 @ 4:30p: Bike Wash

Bring your bike to ride around the school and wash it, and yourself, in our sprinklers.

August 14 @ 7:00p: Movie in the Garden (Rescheduled from 8/13 to 8/14 due to weather)
Dr. Seuss' "The Lorax"

August 19 @ 4:30p: Garden Pictures
Come draw or paint pictures of our garden in full bloom.

If you will be participating and would like to help with any of these activities, please email

It's Time to Plant!

posted May 7, 2014, 8:12 PM by Kristina Fernandes   [ updated May 7, 2014, 8:12 PM ]

The Seed to Harvest Garden has been full of activity.  Last month 15 classes planted seedlings, 15 classes participated in garden crafts to add color and fun to our school garden, and 10 classes adopted a garden bed.  It's really great to see so much participation!

May will be all about planting in the garden.  There are also a number of garden improvement projects that require hardworking volunteers.  We need to dig holes for colorful tire seats and wood stump benches.  We also need to complete the edging and clean-up between the beds to make them easier to maintain in the summer.  There is plenty to do, so if you are interested in getting involved, join us on Tuesday, May 6 at the PTO Meeting (7:00p) or email us at

Adopt the Garden for a Week!

The Seed to Harvest Garden will be in full bloom this summer and we need your help to keep it running.  Volunteers are asked to sign up for garden maintenance in 1 week intervals to help with weeding, dead-heading flowers and harvesting ripened vegetables.  To sign-up, go to:

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