FROM FARM TO SCHOOL: Planting a food story

THE CONCEPT of “farm to school” burst on the scene in the mid-’90s, when a handful of programs sprouted in California and Florida. Berkeley’s Edible Schoolyard was one such, and it transformed an inner-city schoolyard, a sea of blacktop, into an extensive, verdant garden that in turn transformed children’s lives. Responding to those successful initiatives, in 2001 the US Department  of Agriculture’s Small Farms/School Meals Initiative cultivated similar projects in Kentucky, Iowa and Oregon. Now there are more than 2,000 programs nationwide.

Columbia County’s Farm to School program may seem new, but it’s been developing over some years. The concept of food as something that, voila! magically appears only to satisfy requirements of palatability and low cost, is, we hope, entering its twilight among the broader population. In our schools, that outdated food concept has been a subject of enormous concern and discussion, and our teachers and school food services had been keeping a sharp eye on the various farm-to-school efforts elsewhere that were improving, among other things, children’s health and nutrition. Read more…

FROM FARM TO SCHOOL: A Great Start in Germantown

EDUCATORS AT GERMANTOWN Central School District’s Elementary School are remarking on an interesting phenomenon: many of their students want to learn to cook.

These teachers also say their students are sampling and enjoying foods that in years past would get a quick and unambiguous thumbs-down. For example, a fresh spinach salad lightly dressed with oil and vinegar: 5th graders quite literally gobbled it up. And a lettuce salad had 4th graders coming back for seconds and thirds. Read more…

FROM FARM TO SCHOOL: Henry Hudson’s new worm discoveries

WHEN NEW WORLD EXPLORER Henry Hudson recorded his 1609 thoughts for posterity, he said nothing, nada, zip about worms. But HCSD students’ discovery this spring of fat, energetic wrigglers in their one-year-old Henry Hudson Discovery Garden was well worth writing home about.

That’s because they know that all the best gardens have lots of worms — a sign of life and vitality. Worms help make new soil and, unless we’re going hydroponic, we need soil to grow food! Which everybody eats, typically three times a day. Fruits, vegetables, grasses, and grains, and the cows, pigs, chickens and other livestock that get butchered for our dining tables — they either want to grow in soil, or they want to eat what does! Read more…

FROM FARM TO SCHOOL: Butterflies, berries and birds — Oh My!

 

A MODEST BUTTERFLY GARDEN at Ichabod Crane’s Primary School is blossoming into a much bigger enterprise. It’s got the K-2 girls and boys beaming. They can get their hands dirty and make their teachers happy at the same time!

School gardens like Ichabod’s are part of the Farm to School movement. They turn a little bit of the schoolyard into a farm, and when harvest time rolls around, guess who’s excited about those fruits and vegetables? The students who raised them. If they plant it, water it, harvest it, wash it, prepare it, and/or cook it, they tend to eat it (or at least try it). Read more…

FROM FARM TO SCHOOL: Harvesting science and technology

AT TACONIC HILLS CENTRAL SCHOOLS, located in agriculture-centric Craryville, HARVEST isn’t just about bringing in a crop. It’s an acronym for an award-winning educational program begun during Taconic’s 2009-10 school year.

The volunteers and educators that lead the HARVEST Club use agriculture to teach science, technology, and a host of other subjects. “Healthy Agricultural Resources by Volunteers & Educators in Science and Technology” is the club’s full name, and already it’s garnered awards for the school district. That’s not just locally, but nationally. Read more…