School’s Compost Squad Celebrates Green-up Day

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(Host) Saturday is Green-up Day and volunteers are out in force to clean up the Vermont countryside. This year, a group of third- and fourth-graders at Williston’s Allen Brook School have been working on a unique green-up project.

VPR’s Neal Charnoff reports.

(Charnoff) They call themselves The Compost Squad. In the past year, students at the Allen Brook School have collected more than 3,000 pounds of food from the school cafeteria. Squad members have stood guard during lunch, making sure students scrape unfinished food into compost bins. The finished compost will be sold on Green-up Day.

The Green-Up project involved compost research, school presentations, experiments with worms, and the creation of a recycling mural. Compost Squad member Bronwan Hudson explains the goal:

(Hudson) “On Green-up day, people that have bought the compost that we’ve made…they will come right outside our school and they’ll pick up the compost and take it home to make a garden, hopefully, or just plant some more plants with it.”

(Charnoff) Vermont’s Green-up Day began nearly thirty years ago. Each year, on the first Saturday in May, volunteers come out in force to clean up Vermont’s lakes, streams, roadsides, trails and public places.

The Allen Brook School has previously won awards for its recycling efforts. They’re now leading the way for other schools inaugurating composting projects. David Bolger teaches third- and fourth-graders at the Allen Brook School. He says the project has brought students together, and allowed them to take a stand on an issue they feel is important:

(Bolger) “It is in no way too young an age to get these kids going on standing up for what they believe in, figure out what’s important to them, stand up for it, get other people to get on board and do meaningful things that are really going to impact their world outside of the walls of their classroom. I hope that it’s really integrated learning at its best.”

(Charnoff) Bolger says the project helps students overcome common fears, such as public speaking, and dealing with worms. Bronwan Hudson agrees.

(Hudson) “If you’re scared of worms or stuff like that, you better not be near a worm bin, cause there are so many worms in it that it’ll just kind of freak you out. But now that we’ve done it for a long time…we’ve all gotten so used to it that we’re not really grossed out.”

(Charnoff) The students now say they can’t imagine a world without composting. Fourth-grader Anthony Jordick:

(Jordick) “Well, I think that it would be dreary and the plants would just die because they’re nothing for them to soak up, real good water and the nutrients that plants need.”

(Charnoff) Bronwan Hudson would like to see the project continue after Green-up Day.

(Hudson) “Hopefully we’ll keep going on for years and years so that our school is nice and prettier than it is now.”

(Charnoff) Bolger leads the students in a spirited rendition of the Compost Song. (Sound of “Compost Song.”) The Compost Squad will be selling compost today from 8 to 1 at the Allen Brook School.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Neal Charnoff in Williston.

(Song ends, then applause)

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