Compost, Catapults, and Clementines: The 3 Pillars of a Fall Festival

The first time I met Molly White, the principal at Lincoln Elementary School, she told me that two events were guaranteed to bring families to the school: any student performance and the annual fall festival.  She wasn’t kidding.  Last week hundreds of students and their families showed up to celebrate the autumnal harvest, and FoodCorps was there too!

The festival had everything from face painting to sand art and dance competitions to carnival games.  enlisted the help of my fellow service member, Jordyn, who serves across the river in New Hanover County, and together we manned the “compost catapult” booth.  In the third gade classes we’ve been talking about where our food comes from and what weneed to grow our own food.  Most recently, we’ve been learning about compost and other soil amendments, so we brought some of that classroom learning to the festival with a special Halloween twist.


Here’s how it worked:  Students paid 1 ticket for 3 chances to catapult a “rotten pumpkin” (orange plastic golf ball) into the compost bin.  When they won, instead of candy, they were rewarded with a compost card handout explaining how compost is like “zombie dirt” or  “the undead soil”  and their pick of either a clementine jack-o-lantern or a NC grown mummy apple.  The added bonus was that if they ate the fruit and brought back the rind or the core for the real compost, they got their ticket back and could then go play more games or take a turn on the moon bounce!

We had a steady stream of costumed cuties waiting to try their hand at the catapult all night, so we ended up giving away all of the fruit and most of the compost cards.  It just goes to show that sometimes all it takes for kids to get excited about fresh food is a game made out of an 88 cent pack of dowel rods and a few rubber bands!