The Schoolhouse Learning Center’s Abenaki 7 Sisters Garden on Catkin Drive off of Dorset Street.

A Growing Project: Schoolhouse Receives Grant for Garden Project

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Thursday August 16, 2018

The Schoolhouse Learning Center in South Burlington received a Spark! Connecting Community Grant from the Vermont Community Foundation (VCF). The $2,275 grant is for the school’s garden project, “Abenaki 7 Sisters Garden: Cultivating Community and Understanding at The Schoolhouse,” which focuses on Vermont’s Abenaki cultural and agricultural heritage. In addition, the garden serves as a pilot site for the Seeds of Renewal project that collects heirloom seeds for local tribes.

“This is, indeed, very exciting news,” said Head of School Liz Shayne, who added, “Not just the grant, but the garden!” Shayne adds, “The Schoolhouse community is grateful to the VCF for recognizing the important opportunities presented by the establishment of a 7 Sisters Garden and for providing financial support for our efforts.”

According to the Schoolhouse, the goal for the project is to create a garden that is an accessible, shared space where students and the surrounding community can gain a deep understanding of Abenaki culture. Noting that many students in Vermont have limited opportunities to come into direct contact with the state’s native heritage, the school hopes the project continues to raise awareness of “the often overlooked contributions of indigenous Vermonters - the land and its people. The garden includes traditional Abenaki species and uses traditional practices - a tangible means to expand community and student understanding of Vermont’s identity and build an appreciation for Abenaki contributions and struggles, now and in the past.”

“We have been so lucky to benefit from the generosity of the Abenaki community and hope that this garden is one small step toward appreciating and celebrating the contributions of our native ancestors to Vermont. Our sincere hope is that not only will this garden benefit Schoolhouse students and families over the years, but that it might provide opportunities for learning to our neighbors and for the broader community,” said Shayne.

One of the competitive grant programs at the VCF, the Spark! Connecting Community program aims to support the work happening throughout Vermont’s 251 towns that builds social capital. According to VCF, “These grants, where a small amount can make a big difference, are intended to light the spark that keeps Vermonters healthy and happy.”

The Community Foundation awarded a total of $37,720 Spark! Community Grants. The Schoolhouse was one of three Chittenden County organizations awarded. The others are Audubon Vermont, who received $2,970 to lead a group of children from the afterschool program at King Street Youth Center in Burlington; and Outright Vermont, who received $3,000 to support a suite of support groups for LGBTQ youth located in four cities and towns across the state.

VCF President and CEO Dan Smith remarks, “There are great community-generated ideas and opportunities throughout the state that just need a little funding to get started. These programs exemplify the high level of engagement, commitment, and creativity needed to build and nurture our communities across the state.”