Shelburne School Cuts Waste With "Table to Farm" Program

By Staci DaSilva |

Published 03/06 2014 05:13PM

Updated 03/06 2014 06:21PM


You've heard of farm to table. One school says it's practicing “table to farm.”

It's beginning to be a trend in Vermont. Students learn in the lunchroom how to separate their trash into recycling and compost. Doing so not only helps the environment, but saves money.

There was a time when lunch at Shelburne Community School was considered wasteful.

Instead of plastic milk bottles, every day kids drank from over 500 non-recyclable milk cartons and filled 6 trash bags.

Now, it’s a much different story.

“Glass goes in the recycling,” explained Kindergartner Marina Dunbar.

“If you put everything in the trash, the landfills get big,” explained Annika Rogers, 2nd grader.

For more than a year, throwing your lunch away has turned into a bit of a game in Shelburne.

Different items go in the coinciding buckets. The change is the brain child of parent volunteers Cathy Townsend and Lisa Williams.

Lisa Townsend said, “We need to do something to separate the waste and put it to better use if there's any value."

They're not the only ones. 27 Chittenden County schools have similar waste programs.

“We went from being picked up twice a week with the trash to once a week and that enabled us to save roughly $240/month,” said Shelburne Head of Maintenance David Kelly.

In its first year, Shelburne saved 45 tons of waste.

“15 through collecting scraps for the farm and then 30 tons from the paper towel collection,” said Organizer Cathy Townsend.

The school also composts its used paper towels.

After separating the trash, the scraps are given to 80 chickens at New Village Farm, right down the street.

And the chickens love it.

Farmer Michaela Ryan makes the trip to school every day to pick up her chickens' favorite meal.

She says, it saves her $80 a week on food during the school year.

You can call it the circle of life: from lunch line to child, from table to farm.

Among other awards, Shelburne Community School received the state's Green Ribbon Award for its waste program.

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