March Field Trips
It’s growing season! We have planted several seed starts in our Farm to School portable classroom, and look forward to transplanting them into the community garden with several classes this Spring. Ms. Roozen’s 3rd grade class joined us for a walk down to the garden at the end of March. They planted radishes and mixed brassica, learned about plant parts with the book Tops & Bottoms, and demonstrated the seed cycle through dance!
February marked the first of many Food Service Staff trainings with Farm to School champion Kent Getzen, of the Wenatchee School District. These trainings will increase the school’s capacity to offer healthier scratch-cooked meals and continue using more and more local produce. As we all know, change takes time. We are grateful to work with a passionate kitchen staff dedicated to improving school nutrition!
After the training, the schools enjoyed a mini-event: Winter Taste Washington Day(s). This was another chance to highlight Harvest of the Month items with produce from local farms. Lunch included fresh, local veggies from Forest Farmstead and Blue Heron Farm.
February Class Lessons
Along with Rachel Sacco’s DigIn Lessons every other week with the fifth and sixth graders, our Farm to School team has also been offering nutrition and gardening lessons to the rest of the Elementary.
February Field Trips
During the last full week of February we were able to take the fourth graders back to Ovenell’s Ranch. The students helped remove plastic protectors from trees in the conservation area by the river, then went back up to the barn to see newborn calves and talk about their life cycles.
Our Farm to School team enjoyed dressing up for this year’s Mardi Gras parade. We were joined by the Meyer family of Forest Farmstead and their goats. It was great seeing you there!
A big thank you goes out to all of the volunteers that helped clean up the Elementary on MLK Day. With lots of help from our great volunteers we filled dozens of trash bags with invasive species and blackberry bush trimmings. This project served as a valuable hands-on learning experience for our kids. They asked the adults why we would pull some plants and not others. A few individuals explained that some non-native species are invasive, and how they compete for resources like water, sun, and nutrients in the soil. After trimming bushes, pulling weeds, and hauling trash bags, it was lunch time. We joined the rest of our group in the Farm to School portable and enjoyed Apple & Squash soup, grilled cheese sandwiches, and a healthy rice and pomegranate salad. If you missed this event, we hope you’ll join us next time!
On Monday, January 18th, you are invited to participate in a school clean-up event focusing on the Concrete Elementary campus and surrounding trails. Bring garden gloves and a garbage bag (some provided) to Concrete Elementary on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to participate. Volunteers will help pick up trash, pull weeds and remove invasive species to help their community. The event will go from 9am to 1pm, with a free meal served at 1pm to all volunteers. Meals are being provided by Concrete Farm to School, a community minded program bringing fresh and local farm food into the school cafeteria.
The 5th and 6th grade classes visited Cascadian Farm, where they harvested pumpkins and learned about the process of composting.
Mr. Hamilton’s 4th grade class visited Ovenell’s Double O Ranch and learned about raising grass-fed beef cattle. They also got to feed and make friends with the ranch’s Maine-Anjou cattle and Shire horses!
Farm to School partnered with the PTO and Mr. Bianchini to provide a delicious, free meal at the Pumpkin Fun Run. The menu featured vegetarian chili, purple cornbread (corn meal ground from purple corn by summer campers!) and roasted apples and squash. Recipes are available under “2015-16 Harvest of the Month Recipes“.
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 email@example.com or call Rachel Sacco at (360)854-7171.