Culinary begins!

Friday, September 27th, marked the first day of culinary classes of the school year, much to the fifth and sixth graders’ delight. On the menu was pesto, which they made with basil and pea shoots that they harvested the day before. The pesto also featured garlic grown at the school farm. The students were thrilled with their first seed-to-table experience of the school year!

The South Whidbey School Farm team prepped the pesto-making class by pre-measuring basil, pea shoots, sunflower seeds, parmesan cheese, garlic, olive oil and salt. The students received this “cooking show experience” due to time constraints, but will be measuring ingredients for themselves in future classes. 

Kylie Neal, Culinary Coordinator as well as High School Farm Manager, shared a wonderful slideshow on ground rules and food safety in the culinary classroom (linked HERE).

Then students made the pesto by taking turns adding ingredients to the food processor and assessing the pesto for texture. The basil and pea shoots blended down quite nicely!

After preparing the pesto, students sat down to taste their creations: basil-based pesto, peashoot-based pesto, and a hybrid pesto made with both basil and pea shoots. They slathered  farm-grown veggies — mostly cucumbers, kohlrabi and carrots — with the pesto, and loved it! Students agreed that it’s the perfect condiment for raw vegetables. 

We are grateful for a successful first day in culinary, and excited about more to come!

Posted in Updates from the garden!

School begins!

The School Farm was bursting with veggies for the students during the first week of school. The students were so happy to be back at the farm! They devoured garden nibbles featuring fresh-picked carrots, cucumbers, beans, tomatoes, kale, mouse melons, salad turnips, lettuce, pea shoots, and more!

The students explored the farm during the first week of classes. They were excited about all that’s grown over the summer. The scarlet runner beans have reached the top of their tall tipis, the bean tunnel provides a shady cozy place to eat long green beans, and the garden beds are overflowing with all different kinds of crops.

Click on photo to show full-size.

Working at the farm is part of the lesson, too, with 650 young farmers lending a hand.

While the younger students ate garden nibbles in all the colors of the rainbow, the older students made garden tacos featuring different plant parts (roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruits and seeds).

Posted in Updates from the garden!

A great summer of growing veggies for the fall

School begins September 3rd and the School Farm will be ready for the 175 students per day, grades K-6, will be coming to the farm. Grades 3 – 6 will also be having culinary classes. At the High School Gardens, there will be a daily Agriculture class, and Middle School garden elective.

The scarlet runner beans are on track to be at the top of their 15 ft poles when school starts!

We’ve spent the summer cultivating the soil, harvesting crops, flipping the beds from their spring crops, and planting the fall crops that will provide magnificent learning opportunities during the farm classes while giving the students lots of veggies to eat.

Click on photos to see full size.

Plus we’ve had some delicious picnic lunches with fresh salad, scarlet runner bean frijoles and home-made tortillas!

An ongoing thank you to all the volunteers and families who have been helping during our work parties on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which continue through the last week of August! A thank you also to the Girl Scouts, students from the UW and Prairie Rim Institute who did service learning projects this summer.

Here’s slideshow of the farm early August.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Our work is making a lot of kids and families very happy!

Posted in Updates from the garden!

Scarlet runner bean teepee growing and growing!

In a few weeks the beans will have climbed all the way to the top of the teepees! Scarlet runner beans are amazing that way… they will climb as far as you give them something to grow on. The students call them magic beans, and indeed, in less than two months they have grown almost 10 feet, and will reach 15 feet by the beginning of the school year.

In the photo, volunteers are tying up errant vines. The young beans are delicious to eat fresh, and then after they mature, they yield outstanding dry beans that make delicious frijoles.

Come to our Tuesday work parties from 9 am – 12 noon, and then enjoy a lunch of our garden fresh salad with fresh home-made tacos and scarlet runner bean frijoles. Cucumbers and carrots galore now, and the sungold tomatoes are coming soon!

Stay tuned for more summer work party photos on our website, but in the meantime you can see them on our Facebook HERE

Posted in Updates from the garden!

Thank you Whidbey Island Garden Tour!

We thank the Whidbey Island Garden Tour for their generous $2500 grant to the School Farms program which will be used to install additional irrigation infrastructure and timers, and purchase needed tools and equipment, compost, and bulbs.

Our deep appreciation for all the Whidbey Island Garden Tour does to support our community, and the school farm!

Posted in Updates from the garden!

The School Farms Program is recruiting an Americorps School Farm and Food Educator!

These positions have been filled! We welcome Sarah Klimek and Mary Wingerson to the School Farm team.

The South Whidbey School District is expanding its K-12 farm program! The coming 2019-2020 school year is going to be a full and rich year of school farm and culinary curriculum, and growing food for the students and community.

The district is partnering with Readiness to Learn to recruit an Americorps service member to be a vital part of the School Farms team of teachers, farmers and food educators that deliver K-6 farm classes daily, HS Agriculture classes daily, MS garden elective daily, grade 3-6 culinary classes weekly, and that grows produce on our 1.25 acres of school farms for on-site eating, school lunches, healthy snacks and school events. We have a big program and it takes a good team to make it happen. We are seeking an enthusiastic, energetic and capable individual who has experience growing food, and loves cooking, kids, and teaching.

We are delighted to have just become a part of the Common Threads Americorps team, so this is hot off the press and time is of the essence. We are accepting applications on a rolling basis until the right candidate comes along. The position begins August 20, 2019 and ends July 31, 2020. The stipend for this service position is $15,000 total for the 11.5 months of service.

We ask that applicants read through our website as it gives an excellent picture of what we do. In the coming school year our class offerings are increasing significantly. If you want to be part of our team, send your resume and a cover letter to Cary Peterson, School Farms Manager, schoolgardenswhidbey@gmail.com. We will respond promptly. Please contact us at 360-593-2725 if you have not received confirmation of your application. 

The South Whidbey School Farms also partners with the Good Cheer Food Bank and Good Cheer Garden, and Whidbey Island Nourishes. As well as serving the school community, the South Whidbey School Farms Americorps educator will become part of a community of young farmers and apprentices who are passionate about growing food, and food justice, here on South Whidbey.

Contact us promptly if you are inspired to join our team!

Posted in Americorps

Teamwork at the Farm

The fresh greens at our farm are abundant this time of year. Students spent the final days of farm and culinary lessons making salads that were more delicious than ever! Picking the greens, and creating a big bowl of salad to share with friends hit the spot for culinary students. A team of three creating some healthy ranch dressing to share with their classmates!

All students were able to create just the right mix of greens, flowers, crunchy carrots and peas topped with scratch made healthy ranch, vinegrette, and honey mustard dressing. Second helpings were the norm, and happy conversation could be heard as students sat down together at the end of class to enjoy their creations.

Students marked their final visit to the farm this year by doing out of the ordinary activities. Playing the game of ‘Photographer and Camera’ was a fun way to remember favorite places at the farm by working with a partner to play each role. It was also a good lesson in sharpening our observation and communication skills. The camera kept eyes closed until the photographer gave them the signal to open their eyes and take a picture! Each pair took photos and we all joined together to discuss which photos were our favorites.

The School Farm team expanded the growing space recently and that meant moving our fence to encompass another 2100 square feet in the north corner of the farm. Planting pollinators along our new fence line was accomplished by the 5th and 6th grade students. Everyone understands that the bright sunflowers and zinnias attract the pollinators that keep the farm growing and healthy. These same students had selected the seeds for the flowers and planted them into 2 inch pots to give them a head start. The healthy starts were set out with care by the students and promise to make a showy splash of color for all to see this summer and autumn.

Some of the 5th and 6th graders took a little time to contemplate and remember what they’ve learned about farming.  The question was posed: What would you grow in a 3×20 foot bed that has not been previously cultivated?  We checked a bed for size, and noticed the difference between a cultivated bed and the pathway. Students set to work mapping out and then specifying the steps to a healthy harvest.  It was interesting to see their responses. Many of the students have been helping with the work of the farm and eating the resulting harvest since kindergarten!

There is great enthusiasm for the practical tasks of every day farming. Of course the beds were weeded with greater interest as the kindergarten students tried to find the longest root possible. Second graders combined measuring skills with planting the dry beans 3 inches apart. We continue to welcome each and every students to the farm and in turn they put their hands to the tasks before them and their healthy appetites are satisfied by the abundance that they help create and nurture. Another year at the farm and another cycle in the system that feeds our curiosity, knowledge and our tummies!

Posted in Updates from the garden!