‘Farm to School’ celebrates 10th anniversary, student participation in local harvest reaches 5th year

Post date: Oct 31, 2014 6:51:35 PM

The 10th Annual ‘Farm to School Week’, was observed in the cafeterias of the Wells-Ogunquit CSD from September 22nd through the 26th. All through the week during lunchtime students were served a large variety of locally grown fresh fruit, vegetables and beef.

Farm to School Week was introduced to the District in 2005 by Nutritional Services Director Tyler Goodwin. It reinforces eating more nutritious food and highlights the ‘farm to school’ trend of mixing locally grown food into school lunch menus thereby lessening reliance on less nutritious, sodium-rich processed food. Currently, the District purchases locally grown food from Chase Farm, Spiller Farm and Maine Family Farms.

What makes the WOCSD participation in this Farm to School movement stand out among other Southern Maine schools is that Wells and Ogunquit students voluntarily help with the harvest during and after school hours thereby cutting costs and giving them experience laboring on an actual working farm. Each year Spiller Farm in Wells plants several acres of vegetables exclusively for WOCSD.

On several occasions in September and early October seventh grade and fourth grade students traveled by bus to the fields of Spiller Farm and Laudholm Farm to pick potatoes, green beans, carrots and apples. Corn on the cob comes to the District from Chase Farm but is not harvested by students. However, the corn is shucked by the fifth grade class.

According to Goodwin, 900 lbs. of potatoes, 500 lbs. of carrots and 400 lbs. of green beans were picked this year. But that is not where the work ended. For example, green beans and carrots are snipped, cut, washed, steamed, boxed and frozen back at WJHS.

Science teacher Saul Lindauer’s students participate in the harvest but also study aspects of the harvest in the classroom including an examination of sustainable food sources and practices in Maine. He says that his students “conduct a variety of math and science related investigations connected to the food harvesting.”

The cooperation between Anna and Bill Spiller of Spiller Farm with the WOCSD is in its fifth year. “I think it’s good to give kids an idea of where their food really comes from,” said Bill Spiller who added, “It doesn’t (just) come off the shelf at Hannaford.”

Often the harvesting and processing of these foods was quite fast. “These carrots will go from the field…and will be in the freezer within 24 hours, processed, steamed and ready to go,” said Nutritional Director Tyler Goodwin on October 14th when the carrots were being picked on Spiller Farm.

Goodwin said that buying locally is not always the less expensive alternative. “Spillers give us a competitive price. It’s not as much about saving money as about getting farm fresh foods into our lunch program and keeping our school lunch dollars local.” commented Goodwin who wishes to thank Spiller Farm, WJHS Principal Chris Chessie, WJHS teacher Brenda Brown, WES Principal Marianne Horne, WES Assistant Principal Ken Spinney, and WES Science teacher Henry Ingwersen for their support of Farm to School Week. Goodwin also wishes to thank the students for their work in the harvest.

Caption: WOCSD students picking potatoes at Laudholm Farm.

Caption: Cutting and peeling carrots at WJHS are (l to r) students Kim Yurga, Gwen Wallingford, Sarah Lord, Sydney Perry and Abigail Legere and Darion Frasier

Caption: Harvesting carrots on Spiller Farm are McKaela Schiller (left) and Lily Heyland.

Caption: WJHS student Caroling Clarrage holding a very large carrot with student Jillian Evans at right.

Caption: Bill Spiller (left) and Saul Lindauer at Spiller Farm in Wells on October 14th.