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Growing Community: MSMS Student Sustainability News

The following article was crafted by members of the 8th grade MSMS_Sustain Leadership group at Main Street Middle School. By communicating about their work, they hope to build a sustainability movement that supports a just, equitable, and thriving future for all youths. This group of students will be providing The Bridge with a seasonal update on their projects during this school year.

Main Street Middle School students preparing meals for donation. Photo by Don Taylor.
MSMS_Sustain Education

By Isabel Moorman, Tatum Kirtlink, and Juniper Keeton

MSMS_Sustain is a class at Main Street Middle School working to educate our school and community and to make it a more sustainable place. Formed in January of 2021, this program is new to the MRPS community. Students work on sustainability issues and also have chances to learn leadership skills. 

In the sustainability classes, students are learning about the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, or the UNSDGs. Additionally, students learn about the three spheres of sustainability: environment, economics, and equity. Using those as a framework, students engage in project-based learning to try to address community issues. 

The goals of Zero Hunger (addressing food insecurity) and Quality Education (ensuring equal opportunities for quality learning for all) are particularly central to the MSMS Sustainability program’s instruction. In the sustainability classes, all grades are working on putting their cooking skills to good use in the Community Cooking unit. Students make simple, delicious recipes such as bread, salsa, and soups in single-serving containers. Community partners include Community Harvest of Central Vermont and Feast Farm (2022), and local families have donated ingredients such as apples, potatoes, cucumbers, and beets, which students use in their recipes. The finished product goes to Just Basics of Montpelier, a local organization that runs the Montpelier Food Pantry. 

Sustainability Events 

By Maddie Lindberg and Phoebe Bakeman


n Oct. 1, the MSMS Sustainability Leadership was at the Statehouse as part of the annual Fall Festival, selling maple syrup produced from sap harvested by students from local trees and boiled on the MSMS campus. We sold out and raised more than $570. Profits will be divided in thirds between the MSMS_Sustain program, the Caregivers Alliance of MSMS, and a donation to one of our community partners. 

On Saturday, Dec. 9 the World Language program at Main Street Middle School will host Montpelier’s 30th annual Solidarity Craft Fair to raise funds for the MSMS 8th grade field trip. There will be food and refreshments provided by the MSMS_Sustain classes, as well as a silent auction, which will be a way to re-home gently used items rather than sending them to a landfill. The fair is a great place for gift shopping, and it’s been an important source of income for many local artisans for almost three decades. Last year, it hosted 30 vendors, and over 750 people attended. 

Garden Project

MSMS_Sustain’s newest project is a small-scale sustainable garden. All of the produce is donated to Just Basics in Montpelier. After the damage sustained in the flood earlier this year, when a lot of farmers’ crops were ruined by flood water, many people needed food. So far this year, we have harvested tomatoes, garlic, herbs, and potatoes. We use the vegetables from the garden to make healthy meals from the garden in the sustainability kitchen, which are donated to Just Basics. We hope to expand this project within the next few years. 

MSMS_Sustain Community Partners

The MSMS_Sustain Leadership group works with many community partners. One important partnership the school program has found is with Community Harvest of Central Vermont, a local gleaning organization. 

“We are a group of central Vermonters who are committed to bringing our community together through gleaning to recover surplus food produced on area farms to feed those with limited access to nutritious, fresh local food, and in the process help the community to gain a greater awareness and appreciation of the local food system, healthy eating, and waste reduction,” according to Community Harvest’s website.

Produce from Community Harvest contributes to the Cooking for the Community program, in which students cook food at school and donate it to local food pantries and organizations that fight food insecurity.

Community Harvest has been an important partner to MSMS_Sustain because of its generous donations of vegetables, fruit, and dairy products. These have been a huge help with making and donating over 120 meals during the first six weeks of school. The project-based learning activities benefit tremendously from the relationship with Community Harvest. The program and its participants really appreciate Community Harvest’s support and couldn’t do what the program does without them!