October is National Farm to School Month.
Dexter’s Farm to School program is staying busy this fall. Last spring, students at Creekside Intermediate school started tomato seedlings for their annual Plant Sale Fundraiser. After the sale, they donated extra cherry tomato plants to Ruhlig’s Produce. The farmers at Ruhlig’s tended the student-grown seedlings over the summer. This September, those same tomato plants produced fruit that was served in all DCS buildings. Farm to School partnered with Dexter Food & Nutrition to source a total of 60 pints of cherry tomatoes from Ruhlig’s Produce.
These tomatoes represent a full-circle local foods partnership.
In mid-October, Dexter High School’s cafeteria served produce that could not have been any more local. It was grown and harvested by students in the Sullivan Memorial Learning Garden. Produce included Swiss chard, lettuce, arugula, parsley, chives, and Serrano peppers harvested by Kim Melinsky’s 2nd hour class, as well as kale and radishes. The Farm to School program is hoping to build student interest in a Garden Club or Culinary Arts Club in to bring more students into the garden. If you are interested in participating, please contact teacher Kim Melinsky or Caitlin Joseph, Farm to School Coordinator.
In November, Creekside Intermediate School is hosting a Fall Soup Supper to benefit their school garden program. Details and information to purchase tickets is here. The meal features soup prepared by Zingerman’s Roadhouse Head Chef and managing Partner (and Dexter schools parent!) Alex Young with the help of Creekside students.
This year’s Educational Foundation of Dexter fundraiser also has an agricultural bent. Dinner on the Farm at Cornman Farms includes a delicious locally-sourced meal also prepared by Chef Alex Young, who has long worked with the district to provide healthful, local food for students. Dinner on the Farm participants will have the opportunity to bid for a six-month Cornman Farms produce share for 2015. The EF dinner is October 30, 5:30-9:00pm. More details are on their website.
Farm to School initiatives have many benefits.
By educating students about healthful foods and providing access to local produce, these programs help combat childhood obesity. When schools buy local produce, they create new markets for local and regional farmers, which in turn contributes to a vibrant community.
During 2012, local food purchases by schools returned over $385 million to local economies.
The National Farm to School website, www.farmtoschool.org, has much more information and resources. If you fill out a membership form or a “Share Form” during October, you will be entered to win a drawing for $1,000 to spend on a Dexter farm to school program.