WOCSD Celebrates 9th Annual ‘Farm to School Week’
Post date: Oct 18, 2013 6:11:25 PM
The ninth annual ‘Farm to School Week’ was observed in the Wells-Ogunquit CSD from September 23rd through 27th. The centerpiece of the week is the featuring of food grown locally on the lunch menu. For five days, K-12 students were treated to a variety of hometown grown foods including corn on the cob, ground beef, green beans, yellow beans, mashed potatoes, broccoli, peppers, carrots and apples all grown on farms in Wells.
The Maine Department of Education Child Nutrition Program encourages Maine schools to include more locally grown produce in their lunch programs. Since 2005, WOCSD Nutrition Services Director Tyler Goodwin has strived to do just that especially during ‘Farm to School Week’ and throughout the year by means of processing certain items for future use such as green beans and carrots.
The farms that the WOCSD Nutritional Services now purchases from include Chase Farm and Spiller Farm located in Wells.
However, beginning in 2012, there was a new twist added to Farm to School Week observances. Student and staff volunteers began to board buses to travel to the fields at Spiller Farm to participate in the harvest of green beans, potatoes, carrots and apples.
This year more student volunteers from various grade levels participated. On September 11th, over 100 7th grade students from Wells Junior High School and about 50 fourth grade students from Wells Elementary School traveled to Spiller Farm to pick 15 bushels of green beans and 18 bushels of red potatoes respectively. On September 23rd, multi-age 1 and 2 students picked 15 bushels of apples, enough to supply the entire District for the next several months.
On September 26th the fifth grade class shucked 3 bushels of corn received from Chase Farms and the WJHS green team plans to pick carrots at Spiller Farm on the 30th.
Assisting Goodwin in organizing student volunteers to help with the harvest was WJHS Science teacher Saul Lindauer and WES Assistant Principal Ken Spinney. These staff members, according to Goodwin, “really helped drive this. Without those two gentlemen I could not get it (student harvesting) to this size.”
Teacher Lindauer added his own take on the importance of Farm to School Week. “The purpose of Farm to School week is to promote connections between local farms and the school community,” commented Lindauer who has been farming his own vegetable garden for a number of years. “It emphasizes the importance of supporting local agriculture as a more sustainable way to obtain our food. Supermarkets often rely on produce from distant farms and the cost of transportation is extreme.”
Lindauer ended his comments on a historical and cautionary note. “The heritage of farming in Wells goes back centuries, but the number of large farms like Spiller’s is dwindling.”
Back at Wells Elementary School during Farm to School Week students listened to talks about nutrition and viewed a slide presentation. Each day was designated with a color to match food being served that particular day. For example, on red day students were encouraged to dress in red clothing and were presented with several red colored food choices including cherry tomatoes and apples at lunch.
But Farm to School Week offers students much more than a variety in the lunch menu. According to Goodwin it can reinforce a lifetime of healthy eating habits. “What I have noticed in all schools is healthier choices being made, kids are automatically selecting a fruit or vegetable serving with lunch as required and I see less waste than last year,” said Goodwin.
Caption: In the foreground is Isaac Michaud holding a green bean. He is harvesting green beans at Spiller Farm with his classmates, many of whom are in the background.
Caption: A tub of potatoes recently picked by fourth grade students at Spiller Farm on September 10th. Students and Assistant Principal Ken Spinney are in the background getting ready for a bus ride back to WES.
Caption: Science teacher Saul Lindauer in front of signs designating which student groups were to pick green beans in a field reserved for growing green beans for the District.