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The Quabbin Composting and Organic Gardening Program is composed entirely of student volunteers under the direction of Karen DiFranza. Students range from grades nine to twelve, and contribute to the program in a variety of ways.

Throughout the school year, volunteers monitor the collection of food leftovers during the three school lunch sessions and bring the leftovers out to the compost bins after each session. Each time, they cover the food scraps with three times as much carbon materials (mulched leaves, wood shavings, etc.) by volume.

During the growing season, volunteers meet twice a week after school to maintain the garden, which typically involves weeding, harvesting, watering, and turning the compost piles. In the winter, student volunteers only meet once a week after school to do tasks such as saving and sorting seeds, creating our value-added products, and continuing to stir the compost piles and remove snow accumulation.

During the summer months, the garden is highly active, even when school is not. The program still meets twice a week: once to maintain the garden, and the other time to harvest and sell produce at a local farmer's market. As an incentive for students to continue working throughout the summer months, stipends are offered to students. Funding for this is made possible in part by grants and donations from our supporters. Up to three apprentices, current students at Quabbin, are eligible to receive a stipend for their work.

One high school graduate is eligible to receive an internship stipend. The intern takes on a higher level of responsibility and leadership in the program, preparing him or her for real-life work experience. Current college students interested in learning about agricultural sustainability should feel free to contact us with inquiries or potential work availability. The internship includes hands-on learning in the Quabbin garden and valuable experience in environmental education and marketing.

The interns and apprentices have the opportunity to work alongside a mentor/director and student volunteers to maintain the garden, sell produce, and do community outreach, making it a unique and engaging leaning experience for all members. Those involved have the opportunity to develop essential bonds with their coworkers, likeminded people in the community, and most importantly, the earth itself.

The Quabbin Composting and Organic Gardening Program works to protect the environment for future generations by recycling food resources, through sustainable agriculture, and by encouraging these practices in our community.

For more information and inspiration about educational experiences that will help to ensure a sustainable future, please visit Hands To Earth.

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