Oct 13, 2015 | District, Elementary School, Farm to School, High School
Welcome Back to Farm to School!
Farm to School is back for a third year in the Concrete School District. This fall has brought some new faces and places to the program including Mitch Metcalf, the new United General District 304 Americorps VISTA and a Farm to School Classroom in Portable C on the Elementary School campus.
Over the summer, Farm to School was an important part of the Concrete Summer Learning Adventure, a five week day camp for elementary students. Check out what we did on our blog at cslacamp.weebly.com. It’s never too early to get excited for next year! Campers visited several local farms, worked in the Angele Cupples Community Garden, ate farm-fresh produce at lunch, and learned to compost their food waste. They also helped us to launch the new Farm to School classroom by painting a garden-themed mural on the outside, thanks to the generous support of the Museum of Northwest Art. Come on by for a visit- it’s not hard to find!
Concrete Summer Learning Adventure Campers in front of the Farm to School classroom.
This fall, we began our year of local foods with Taste Washington Day on October 7th. The kitchen crew pulled out all the stops to serve an all-local lunch, sourcing beef from Ovenell’s Cattle Ranch, kale and carrots from Blue Heron Farm, Asian Pears from Forest Farmstead, and potatoes from Double N Potato Shed. Several distinguished guests were in attendance including Senator Kirk Pearson, Judy Nevitt of the Darrington School Board, Jan Curry and Sacha Johnson of WSU Extension’s Food $ense Program, and reporters from the Skagit Valley Herald and our own Concrete Herald. Of course, the most important attendees were the kids, their teachers, and other school staff who enjoyed the meal of home-style meatloaf, mashed potatoes, kale-idscope salad, dilly carrots and sliced pears together. You can see pictures of the day in the Skagit Valley Herald article here: https://www.goskagit.com/all_access/taste-washington-day-lets-kids-in-concrete-explore-local-food/article_08fee4d2-0409-5a3c-aa51-65665ab34134.html
Students enjoy a local lunch on Taste Washington Day, October 7th, 2015.
Forest Farmstead is also working with the school district this year to divert food waste from the trash. After piloting a system to collect the school’s food waste for their pigs during summer camp, composting for the pigs was implemented district-wide beginning on the first day of school. While the occasional plastic fork still makes it into the wrong bin, we have successfully saved hundreds of pounds of food scraps from the landfill in the last month alone. Please encourage your child to remember to separate their trash from their food scraps! If it’s something they wouldn’t eat (like, say, a milk carton), the pigs won’t want it either.
These happy pigs at Forest Farmstead enjoy chowing down on food waste from our schools.
October is a busy month for Farm to School. On the calendar are farm field trips for several of the older grades to Cascadian Farm and Ovenell’s Cattle Ranch. On October 29th, Farm to School will be partnering with the PTO to provide a hearty fall meal at the annual Pumpkin Run. Hope to see you there!
For more information about Farm to School or volunteer opportunities please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Rachel Sacco at (360)854-7171.
May 12, 2015 | District, Elementary School, Farm to School
On Friday, both third grade classes got to visit the Angele Cupples Community Garden, albeit one at a time! While there, they planted a miniature “Three Sisters” garden in one of the Farm to School raised beds and planted some dry beans in the row crop area. A week ago, I visited their classrooms and we talked about the Native American legend of the Three Sisters, a story explaining the relationship between three important companion plants- corn, beans, and squash. Companion plants, they learned, are plants that like to grow together; that support one another in some way. In this case, the corn literally supports the beans, acting as a trellis, while the beans fix nitrogen from the air and put it into the soil to feed the corn and squash. Finally, the squash’s broad leaves shade out weeds and help the soil to retain moisture.
Each visiting class was divided into two groups, one of which weeded the raised bed and planted heirloom purple corn starts and scarlet runner beans, while the other group planted a mixture of bush beans with volunteer Marjie Bell. After all their hard work in the soil, the kids only had one more task- getting on the fender blender and making blueberry smoothies to celebrate a job well done!
May’s Harvest of the Month (HOM) is dry beans. We’ll be serving samples of hummus in the cafeterias on Thursday, May 14th. If you would like to volunteer, please contact me at (360) 854-7171 or email@example.com.
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Apr 15, 2015 | Farm to School
The words “Farm to School” conjure up many images and ideas. Children eating nutritious school meals featuring colorful vegetables fresh from the field, farmers teaching eager students about their vocation, taste tests in the cafeteria, cooking demos, classroom gardening. I’m happy to report that Concrete Farm to School is beginning to accomplish all of these things!
On Thursday, April 9, 2015, Mrs. Elms’ second grade class returned to the Community Garden, which they had previously visited in October. In the fall, they planted garlic in one of the raised beds and carefully covered it with straw mulch to prepare for winter. Their springtime mission was to plant sugar snap peas in another bed, but they were really looking forward to checking on their garlic! The anticipation and excitement was palpable as they raced up the hill to the garden gate, impatiently but obediently waiting for permission to enter.
I’d visited their class on Tuesday, when we dissected pre-soaked pea seeds to observe the seed coat, embryo and cotyledon, and then planted (other, non-dissected) seeds in toilet paper tubes. During that lesson, we talked about the garlic, and the kids used their hands to estimate how tall it might have grown in the last five months. But none of them thought it would be that tall! After observing the garlic for a few minutes (do you remember the size of the clove you planted? What do you think it looks like under the ground? Why did we put the straw on the bed? What are weeds?), we moved over to the other Farm to School raised bed to plant our peas.
The kids carefully dug holes for their seeds and buried the toilet paper tube pots. We discussed what our seeds would need to grow (soil, sunlight, water, air, and a trellis. What’s a trellis? Do all plants need a trellis? Can you spot some different trellises in the garden?). I provided bamboo and twine, and the kids designed and built a trellis (I can only hope that we mostly remembered where we planted all the seeds!). And then we said goodbye to our seeds, wished them luck, and headed back to the school, where the kids were off to PE. After the 20 minute walk, which seemed to be uphill each way, they were ready to begin their gym period with a visit to the water fountain!
The garlic and peas will be harvested in July by Concrete Summer Learning Adventure campers, and maybe, if all goes well, Mrs. Elms’ class will get to go back and visit their gardens one more time before school ends in June. I was reminded last week that nutrition is not just about counting nutrients. To help children become truly healthy, we must give them the tools and knowledge they need to make healthy decisions themselves. For a second grader, planting peas and eating the fruits of their labor will have a much more lasting impact than a classroom lecture comparing fruits and veggies to Cheetos. Perhaps that’s true for all of us. Maybe what we need is not more articles telling us what to eat or not to eat, but more time spent in the garden!