Students Gavin Grady, Sarah Ilgenfritz and Olivia Diebold pose for at the URI East Farm Apple Orchard last week.

SKHS students donate hand-made apple pies to Peace Dale Congregational

SOUTH KINGSTOWN – Peace Dale Congregational Church was filled with warm aromas of fresh, hand-made apple pies last week, thanks to the hard work of students at South Kingstown High School. 

This year, Rebecca Galoob is teaching a new, hands-on science course that introduced students to plant science while also incorporating a bit of culinary flair. Rather than sitting in front of a chalkboard for an entire class period, students have been able to spend time outside tending to the school’s greenhouse and gardens, as well as the culinary labs. 

“A big part of the class is using our raised beds and greenhouse to explore growing vegetables and a pollinator garden,” Galoob said. In the culinary labs, students have been able to cook up and prepare tasty harvest treats, like salads, salsa, roasted potatoes and pumpkin pie – which was a big hit with the whole class.

“In addition to the sustainable agriculture activities we do in class, some students have volunteered after school in two projects I’ve organized,” she said.

In September, Galoob organized an opportunity for students with the help of Hope’s Harvest RI, a nonprofit organization that connects farms and volunteers to collect food for hunger relief agencies that would otherwise go wasted, to help pick tomatoes at Sodco Farm in Exeter.  

In addition to helping a worthy cause, students were also able to hear from Sodco Farm’s sustainability director who explained that the tomato plot was an experimental project, testing tomato productivity with various cover crops. 

Most recently, however, students were able to tour the University of Rhode Island’s East Farm Apple Orchard, where they heard from URI research associate Heather Faubert and Melissa Dussault of the RI Nursery and Landscape Association about career opportunities in the landscape field. Afterward, student volunteers helped to pick apples that were used in class the following day to prepare fresh apple pies. 

That night, the fruits of their labor were all donated to the Peace Dale Congregational Church’s weekly community dinner, an event that’s been held every Wednesday night for nearly five years.

Peace Dale Congregational Church member Wally Young wasn’t only a huge fan of the 12 pies that were donated last week, but the students who prepared them. Galoob and a handful of her students stayed to help serve the pie, according to Young, and even stayed to help clean up everything afterward. 

“I was a fan of the whole event,” Young said. “We have great kids at South Kingstown High School.”

During the entire month of October, Young could be seen on the lawn of Peace Dale Congregational every day, selling pumpkins to help benefit Welcome House – a nonprofit organization that offers emergency shelter, a soup kitchen, transitional and supportive permanent housing as well as case management and advocacy for neighbors in need. Almost every day after school, Young said students came down the road to help him.

When Galoob came to buy pumpkins for her class last month and pitched her idea about donating the apple pies to the Welcome House, Young was thrilled. The 75 people who attended last week’s dinner were also thrilled, he added.

“I’m always excited when kids want to do things and help their community,” Young said.

In addition to helping their community, students will also be walking away from this class with “hands-on gardening and cooking skills that will last a lifetime,” Galoob said.

Some students have come into the class with experience and love of gardening, either from home or with the school’s gardening club or sustainability groups. Others have never set foot into the gardens.

For junior Zack Redmond, 16, the gardening aspect of the class has forced him out of his comfort zone and into the dirt, which he isn’t typically a fan of. So far, though, he’s been enjoying the experience.

“The cooking is challenging because I don’t cook a lot, but it’s definitely a good learning experience for me,” he said. “It’s pretty fun.”

Senior Thea Henry, 17, said she was drawn to the class because of the hands-on activities they’ve been able to take part in outside of the classroom. She said it’s been a nice addition to her other science courses she’s been enrolled this year, like Advanced Placement Environmental Science. 

For some students, this is a fun addition on top of the other science classes, according to Galoob. Other students are drawn to the class as a fun, more hands-on alternative science course that still teaches them meaningful and valuable material. 

The class isn’t just tending to the garden and cooking, but “exploring humans’ interaction with plants as we strive to maintain a sustainable environment,” she said.

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