Garden fresh from Tri-County

Tri-County students Emily Scannell of Franklin and Jimmy McCarthy of Walpole proudly presented the Franklin Food Pantry with a donation of freshly picked produce on Tuesday, August 7, courtesy of the school’s very own heirloom vegetable garden.

Scannell, a junior, and McCarthy, a sophomore, delivered freshly picked green, purple, banana, and jalapeño peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, and eggplant to Franklin Food Pantry Manager and Director of Operations, Linda Sottile.

“It’s with the support of organizations like Tri-County and local farmers, who offer us fresh produce, that we are able to offer healthy options to our clients. It’s neighbors helping neighbors,” said Sottile of the donation.

Tuesday’s donation marks the third delivery Tri-County students have made to the Franklin Food Pantry as a result of the bounty of the Tri-County heirloom vegetable garden. “It makes me feel good to know that the produce is going to help people,” noted Jimmy McCarthy, who has helped to water and maintain the garden over the summer in partnership with a group of other students, teachers, and faculty members.

The Tri-County vegetable garden was made possible by a school wide fundraiser organized by members of the Student Council and inspired by a meeting with a representative from National Grid about the benefits of energy conservation. Students raised $2,000 selling Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CLF’s) and advanced powerstrips, which funded the garden set up.

Tri-County Environmental Science Teacher and TC Green Club Advisor Nancy Sibilia and Culinary Arts Instructor and Student Council Advisor Nancy Haney volunteered as the Garden Coordinators. English Teacher Peter Hefele stepped forward to donate the heirloom vegetables for planting, and herbs for planting were donated by Special Education Teacher Jane Baldi and Adult Cosmetology Instructor Barbara Perron.

The garden was planted in earth boxes around the back of the school building in May and June by students in the Facilities Management Career Program, Culinary Arts Career Program, Grade 12 Environmental Science classes, and members of the Student Council and TC Green Club.

During the summer months, Sibilia, Haney, and Lynn Wencus took turns tending and watering the garden daily with Tri-County students Scannell and McCarthy, as well as sophomore Sean Duren, juniors Katherine Cornell, Joseph Galligan of Medway and Jack Greene of Walpole, and senior Bridget McHugh of Medway.

“It’s been great to see the students doing a project like this. They are able to learn from planting and growing the vegetables, and then they see the final result and how those vegetables are going to help to feed people,” explained Nancy Sibilia. “We have many more visits to make to the Food Pantry this summer. Our tomatoes are starting to ripen and we have other types of peppers that are nearly ready as well,” she added.

Tri-County RVTHS was honored with a 2012 Secretary’s Award for Excellence in Energy and Environmental Education at the Massachusetts State House in May, which recognizes schools, teachers, and students involved in school-based programs that promote environmental and energy education.

Tri-County received a First Honors Certificate of Excellence for their “Clean Energy Initiatives,” which include the heirloom vegetable garden, the installation of a photovoltaic training structure on school grounds, and the formation of the TC Green Club.

For more information about the Franklin Food Pantry, visit or call (508) 528-3115.

Tri-County RVTHS, located at 147 Pond Street, Franklin, is a recipient of the High Schools That Work Gold Achievement Award and serves the communities of Franklin, Medfield, Medway, Millis, Norfolk, North Attleboro, Plainville, Seekonk, Sherborn, Walpole, and Wrentham.

This article did appear in the Milford Daily News

Note: The Food Pantry was having problems with our website at that time in August.