By Mark Boshnack
The Daily Star
---- — Several groups of South Kortright elementary students have been sharpening their songwriting skills in a monthlong workshop.
The community will have a chance to hear the fruits of their labors at 8 a.m. Friday at the school’s morning program.
Local arts educator Story Laurie, whose real name is Laurie McIntosh, has been working with South Kortright and other participating schools on the Cultivating Connections program. It is designed to maximize the learning opportunities of school gardens and farms by working with teachers and students.
McIntosh is working with Farm Catskills, a community organization working to protect and promote agriculture and the farming way of life. The effort is funded through a grant provided by the Catskill Watershed Corporation.
McIntosh said she is impressed by the South Kortright school garden, which helps bring the harvest to the school kitchen.
“Lately, many communities have realized the health and economic values of local farm-to-school initiative programs,” McIntosh said.
This is first chance for the public to see the efforts of the students, she said. Other schools that are involved are Delhi, Andes and Downsville central schools.
At the start of the workshops, she introduces the topics through song. By talking about locally grown food and farms, she helps students decide how to proceed. For South Kortright third-graders, this included singing about where the milk they have with their cereal comes from. Second-graders will share a song about all the things that help plants grow. The first-graders were inspired by a trip to pick pumpkins, she said.
Farm Catskills associate Rachael Smith said programs such as this are important to raise awareness of the importance of working farms to the area.
Friday should be “a lot of fun,” not only as an opportunity to showcase creative songwriting. It will be a celebration of local food, she said, with opportunities for visitors to partake in some of what the area has to offer.