About Concrete Farm to School
Concrete Farm to School is building resilient students and families by providing access to healthy local foods, nutrition and culinary education, and hands-on gardening activities in the cafeteria, classroom, and community.
Farm to School is a national movement of programs that promote and serve locally grown and produced foods in school cafeterias. These programs serve to provide local markets for local farms, support the local economy, educate eaters about local farming and food systems, improve the quality of food served in the cafeteria, provide nutrition education, and improve institution-community relationships.
The Concrete School District was fortunate to receive a USDA Farm to School Planning grant in 2013. As a result of those initial funds, Concrete now has a growing Farm to School program of its own, dedicated to bringing fresh, local food to students through taste tests and special menus in the cafeteria. Concrete’s Farm to School program also connects the students back to the sources of that food through classroom education, special events, and farm field trips.
Taste Test Tuesdays
One Tuesday each month, Concrete Farm to School brings local foods to the cafeteria for students to sample during lunch. This event is a part of the overall Harvest of the Month campaign, in which one seasonal vegetable or fruit is featured each month. So far, students sampled Kale-idoscope Salad in September and Broccoli Family Tree Salad in October.
Harvest of the Month Day
On the Thursday after Taste Test Tuesday, the Harvest of the Month vegetable or fruit will be featured in the school lunch menu. In September, for instance, the Harvest of the Month was Salad Greens, and locally grown greens and other salad toppings were offered in the salad bars with a variety of scratch- made vinaigrette dressings. In October, when the harvest of the month was broccoli and cauliflower, oven-roasted broccoli and cauliflower sourced from local farms was offered on the menu. Cafeteria staff has done a great job learning new skills to prepare and serve these fresh, local foods!
One of the best ways to deepen students’ understanding of the food system is to take them directly to the source! With this in mind, various Concrete Elementary classes participated in field trips to Ovenell’s Double O Cattle Ranch, Jericho Farm, and Cascadian Farm in the spring of 2014. In October, 6th graders returned to Cascadian Farm to harvest pumpkins and increase their understanding of local food.
Locally Sourced Food
Vegetables served on Taste Test Tuesdays, Harvest of the Month days, or in Classroom Programming will be sourced from local farms. As a result of the Planning Grant funds, the Concrete cafeteria currently subscribes to two “CSA” shares (Community Supported Agriculture, in which consumers purchase a “share” at the beginning of the growing season and receive a weekly allotment of produce), one from Jericho Farm in Concrete and one from Blue Heron Farm in Rockport. In addition, we have made our first order from the Puget Sound Food Hub, an organization that serves to streamline the process and provide delivery so that institutions can easily buy directly from small farmers.
Each month, elementary school teachers have the opportunity to sign up for Farm to School programming in their classrooms. These are short lessons presented by guest teachers- farmers, chefs, or local community members who are passionate about food. Each lesson is different- so far this year, we’ve had a demonstration on preparing scratch-made salad dressings , a snack and story time, an excursion to plant garlic in the Concrete Community Garden, and a discussion of the finer points of broccoli.