Harvest day a Maine event in SAD 34
By Tanya Mitchell
VillageSoup/Waldo County Citizen Reporter

SWANVILLE (Oct 13): Kindergarten students at the Kermit Nickerson School recently planted an apple tree that will be mature enough to produce fruit by the time they enter fifth grade.

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Teaching youth where their food comes from and how a healthy meal is prepared are some of the educational benefits gleaned during a fall harvest. SAD 34 joined many school districts across the state Wednesday, Sept. 26, in celebrating harvest day.

Tanya Mitchell
Students in Jason Bannister's fourth-grade class made carmel apples as part of SAD 34's harvest day activities. (Photo by Tanya Mitchell)

Nickerson School librarian Cindy Boguen said students had hands-on lessons about apples throughout the week. Monday, Sept. 24, K-12 students traveled to Maine-ly Apple Farm in Dixmont to pick apples.

"They even got to see cider-making," said Boguen.

After the cider press worked its magic, the pupils learned the "gunk" left over from the crushed apples also has a use — Boguen said the Maine Warden Service gives pressed fruit to deer.

"For them to se the apples made into cider, and to know none of it is wasted is really neat," she said.

Students brought apples back to school and divided them among each class. The children and teachers prepared apple dishes to be served to parents and students at an open house.

As part of the celebration of the apple, students recognized the birthday of Johnny Appleseed. Born John Chapman, the pioneer and nurseryman introduced apples and apple trees to parts of Ohio, Illinois and Indiana. The birthday party was complete with an apple cake created by students at the Waldo County Technical Center.

The apple tree planted in the front yard at Nickerson, said SAD 34 health coordinator Linda Hartkopf, was a gift from the Waldo County Healthy Community Coalition.

"The fifth-graders will take care of the tree this year," said Boguen.

The centerpiece of the day in SAD 34 was a districtwide harvest lunch, a meal made completely from locally grown and produced ingredients. The menu included Maine potatoes from the Newport farm of Seth Bradstreet III, the state's commissioner of agriculture, and vegetables from the Troy Howard Middle School Garden Project. Other participating farms and businesses included Caldwell Farm, Freedom Bean Co., State of Maine Cheese, Maine-ly Apple Farm and Cross Family Farm.

Hartkopf said the activities teach students ways to celebrate and connect with the local farm scene. "It's using the resources in your community," said Hartkopf.