Farm to Home – Harvest Feast 2021

Rachel Nottingham, AmeriCorps service member who teaches the culinary classes and coordinates the Elementary School snack program, gets lots of thank you letters from the students! They LOVE to cook, and eat!

In this post, she shares about the Elementary School Farm to Home Harvest Feast on Thursday, November 18th.

This year, the Harvest Feast was fully adapted to a take-home meal. Included were new recipes we developed that were made by our 5th and 6th grade culinary students! Click HERE for the menu!

They began their preparation by learning how to make mashed potatoes and exploring different methods to meet allergy concerns. This lesson consisted of knife skills and cooking techniques including how to confit garlic! 

After mastering 112 pounds of potatoes we moved on to arguably the most important dish of fall.. Pumpkin Pie! A big thank you to Whidbey Pies for donating pie crusts to make this happen! The students learned the importance of warming spices and why ratios are important when blending them. They jumped right in by scooping out the seeds of the farm grown pumpkins with their (gloved) hands, and practiced cracking eggs. Their effort was rewarded in the form of 40 pumpkin pies! 

You’d think they’d get tired cutting 60 pounds of carrots but they proved us wrong! During a 40 minute lesson, these students plowed through farm harvested carrots for the thyme and garlic roasted carrots!

Our culinary students are ready for any cutting job after this accomplishment! 


The final recipe was a seasonal kale salad. The students prepped the kale using a massage technique to break down the fibers so the salad could soak up more of the vinaigrette that featured the apple juice from their apple pressing lesson! They were able to release all their pre-teen angst by emulsifying balsamic vinegar and olive oil to be mixed in completing the Harvest Feast kale salad. 

Then, on the Thursday before Thanksgiving, the boxed-up meals were delivered to the over 275 students and family members who had signed up. Artwork and cards from the younger grades, as well as the menu, were included in the decorated bags.

We got fan mail! “I just want to thank you all for the lovely harvest feast we had last night, compliments of my granddaughter Savannah Alder (kindergarten) who proudly brought dinner home to her family including us grandparents.
Not only was the food delicious but during dinner Savannah shared with us all she had learned about what is UNDER the mulch – much to the delight of her little brother who loves worms and all crawly things. Best of all, the kids ate and loved the vegetables and really loved the pie! Many thanks from our family!”

The 2021 Harvest Feast was made possible by Whidbey Island Nourishes, and South Whidbey School Farms. and we are excited for next year’s event! 

Cheers to a bountiful season!

Posted in Americorps, Culinary, Events, Harvest, Harvest Feast, Thanksgiving feast, Updates from the garden!, Whidbey Island Nourishes | Leave a comment

Cooking up a Storm!

Hi there! I’m Chad and I’m one of the AmeriCorps members at the South Whidbey School Farms. I’d like to share an update on the culinary happenings around campus.

Breakfast Bagels @ The Middle School

The students have been busy getting ready for Harvest Feast and taking culinary classes. AmeriCorps member Rachel Nottingham taught 7th and 8th grade students how to make breakfast bagels with fresh kale, peppers, tomatoes, and more from the garden! The students mixed their own eggs, prepped their own vegetables, and cooked on a griddle. What a fun way to start the school day!

Pumpkin Pie

5th and 6th graders learned to deseed a pumpkin and spice pumpkin puree for pies. The pumpkins grown on the school farm and processed by the students will be made into delicious pies for the Harvest Feast on November 18th. This was a messy class but super fun!

Apple Cider

K – 6 Elementary School students got to press their own apple cider and enjoyed drinking it in early November. Students enjoyed it so much we could barely keep up with demand!

Microgreen Salads with 2nd Grade

2nd graders worked on reading ingredients list and measuring ingredients by making their own salad dressings. They made a delicious yogurt ranch and a balsamic vinaigrette and enjoyed farm fresh kale, salad turnips, and carrots along with sunflower and broccoli microgreens. Kids said this was the best salad they’ve ever had (don’t tell their parents)!

Next the students will be preparing kale salad, carrot sticks, mashed potatoes and the rest of the pumpkin pies for the harvest feast!

Posted in Americorps, Culinary, Harvest Feast, Updates from the garden! | Leave a comment

Nourishing the soil!

Winter is the time to rejuvenate the soil that has given so much to us through the season. The students have been planting cover crops, spreading mulches, making compost and trench composting. So many ways to restore the soil and re-cycle organic matter!

Lots of bed clean-up and then 3rd graders made compost with the greens and browns. They loved putting their arms in all the way to the center to feel the heat of the composting!

Trench composting with the smashed apples from the cider pressing will feed the soil from below and mulching kale with grass and leaf clippings provides organic matter from above.

Cover crops hold nutrients in the soil and they will be turned over in late January to decompose and add organic matter for our spring crops.

We mulch everything that isn’t planted with cover crops!

Another fun way we nourish soil is our pumpkin spiral. A big thank you to all the families who donated their Halloween pumpkins to the decomposing pumpkin spiral!

The grass is much greener where the pumpkins have been…last year’s decomposing pumpkins created a green spiral in the meadow! It’s such a vivid demonstration of how decomposing organic matter adds nutrients to the soil. Now it will be fun to watch them disappear into the soil over the coming months.

How green will the spiral be this summer?

Posted in Americorps, Children in the garden, Decomposing pumpkins, Updates from the garden! | Leave a comment

Harvest Feast 2021- Farm to Home this year!

Students have been working hard at the Elementary School Farm since school started and now it’s time to enjoy the fruits of their labor! On November 18, we will be providing a free, take-home feast for the K – 6 students and their families. All dishes are being prepared in the Whidbey Island Nourishes kitchen by South Whidbey’s 5th and 6th graders as part of their culinary classes.

If you are a K-6 family, make sure you sign up!
Scan the QR code below, or click HERE.
November 1st is the sign-up deadline.

Students will be making mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, kale salad, and roasted carrots – everything will be packaged and sent home with your student after school on November 18th. All you’ll need to complete the meal is a main dish.

Since 2015 (with a pause last year for the pandemic), the harvest feast has been held during lunch at the Elementary School. This year, in the spirit of giving, we are able to offer this event in a pandemic-safe but still enjoyable “take-home” format.

Let us know if you’d like to receive a meal for your family,
November 1st is the sign-up deadline.
Please sign up ASAP!
Scan the QR code below, or click HERE.

Happy Feasting!

Posted in Americorps, Culinary, Events, Harvest, Thanksgiving feast, Whidbey Island Nourishes | Leave a comment

Calling all decomposing pumpkins!

We need your Halloween pumpkins for the School Farm pumpkin spiral!

Starting Monday, November 1st, we will be collecting pumpkins!

Put in the blue pickup truck at the North Campus, or drop off in a yellow cart at the South Campus.

In this video, see an overhead view of the pumpkin spiral at the beginning and end, and a tour of the school farm and surroundings in the middle.

Posted in Decomposing pumpkins, Lessons | Leave a comment

High School Farm Stand now open!

The South Whidbey School Farmstand is up and running! Thanks to lots of hard work on the part of students, staff, and AmeriCorps service members, we are now open! It is a self-serve farmstand full of produce all grown and harvested by South Whidbey students. Please bring your own reusable bags to reduce waste and support the School Farm Program.

All proceeds go to the SW School Farm Program through Readiness To Learn. You can pay with cash, check, or by using the QR code posted in the stand or by visiting

Come check it out on Maxwelton Road right in front of the 7-12 campus (the High School)!

See the article about the Farm Stand in the South Whidbey Record HERE!

Posted in Updates from the garden! | Leave a comment

Fall Culinary at the School Farm

Home-made masa tortillas and hotpot, all with farm fresh veggies- the students love culinary! Next is mashed potatoes! A big thank you Rachel Nottingham, AmeriCorps service member for these classes!

Posted in Americorps, Culinary | Leave a comment

September learning and eating at the School Farm!

Posted in Children in the garden, Culinary, Harvest, Healthy snacks, Lessons, Natural dyeing, Updates from the garden!, Vermicomposting/Worm bins | Leave a comment

New Coolbot walk-in cooler!

We love our new walk-in Coolbot cooler! We now have enough cold storage for our harvest!

The School Farm grows produce for the school lunches, Whidbey Island Nourishes and the snack program, culinary classes and events. The walk-in unit we were sharing with WIN and the school district was too small for our many bins of produce.

Thanks to grants from OSPI (Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction) and the Goosefoot Community Fund we were able to purchase a walk-in refrigeration unit. Volunteers from the South Whidbey Rotary Club assembled it for us!

The 8 ft x 10 ft walk-in is cooled by an air conditioner that is modified by a Coolbot to keep our produce at the right temperature.

Here’s how it went up with the panels joined by a camlock. Enjoy this short video that tells you all about it!

Much appreciation to our community partners who helped us get the cold storage we need!

Coolbot featured the South Whidbey School Farms on their website HERE!

Posted in Coolbot, Funding support, Goosefoot, Harvest, Updates from the garden!, Volunteer | Leave a comment

Welcome to the 2021-2022 AmeriCorps Team!

A big and warm welcome to the 2021 – 2022 AmeriCorps team who began their service on September 1st: Chad Fisher, Shayna Leibowitz, Lily Cowen and Rachel Nottingham. They join Mayme O’Toole (far right) who has been serving since Feb. 15th. Soon to arrive will be Riley Baker coming on October 1st. Read the farm team bios here!

September 1st was also the first day of school, and from day 1 the AmeriCorps team has been helping with the farm and culinary classes, farm cultivation and harvest, and snack program. We are so appreciative of their indispensable service!

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