Welcome Ryan Viscito!

A big and warm welcome to 2017 Grow Whidbey School Farm curriculum apprentice Ryan Viscito!

I grew up associating agriculture with vast corn fields, crowded cows, the pungent smell of commercial mushroom production, and the horse-powered farms of the Amish. I spent most of my life in eastern Pennsylvania, surrounded by yet disconnected from agriculture.

I did not realize this disconnect until two years ago. After earning a degree in early grades education, I moved to California to live, teach, and learn on an educational farm. There, I developed a connection with my food and the earth which had a profoundly positive impact on my well being. I simultaneously realized the potential of farm-based education to create similarly powerful experiences for children.

As I learned more about agriculture and ecology, my interest grew into a passion. I went back to Pennsylvania last year to farm full-time, and while I enjoyed it, I felt like something crucial was missing from the equation. I came to Whidbey to not only share my love of farming with others, but also to facilitate joy and wonder, and to inspire children to live happy, healthy lives. The school farm is an incredible place to do so, and I am grateful to be a part of it.

~~~ Ryan

Posted in Updates from the garden!

SNACC Time with the Students

In January the school garden expanded into the realm of fresh food preparation. We are now teaching cooking classes for the third though fifth grade students. There have been four successful classes so far where the students made a delicious pumpkin dip. We used the pumpkin puree that was processed and frozen from our all school Thanksgiving Feast. Our goal is to source food directly from the school farm and  increase the connection from garden to table.

This new program is called SNACC (Student Nutrition and Culinary arts Community). It integrates the importance of fresh food and community through cooperation and sharing the food that the students have grown and prepared.


Here is the recipe if you want to try our Pumpkin Dip at home!


Posted in Goosefoot, Lessons, SNACC, Updates from the garden!

Winter’s Rhythm Gives Way to Spring

January 2017 saw the first students making forays into the winter garden with exclamations of  ‘The bean teepees are gone!’, ‘The garden looks empty.’  Then on closer examination, they found wiggling worms in the soil and a world of wonder in the seemingly empty garden scape.

They noticed that the cover crops they planted in the autumn have created a bed of green on the garden beds and the pumpkins they placed in November have decomposed at the base of the fruit trees in the orchard.


Finding the different types of cover crop in the garden beds

During garden class time the students are learning that winter time is all about letting the garden rest and building the soil through cover cropping and mulching the garden beds that provide the much loved vegetables that we eat throughout the year.


Sharing in the Garden Circle


Grade Two students rolled up their sleeves and flipped the cover crops they planted this fall in their new little cove garden. We said a thank you to the cover crop before flipping it into the soil and noted that the green growth that we planted will now decompose and invite worms and micro organisms to feed and build the soil.

In anticipation of spring planting, the Grade One and Grade Two students have planted peas in clear plastic trays that have been placed in light boxes in the hallways at the Elementary School. Students can watch as the peas germinate and sprout inside and then continue the cycle by planting the little plants in the garden when the soil warms up.

Students found the tall bamboo poles that made the bean teepees with dried vines and bean pods still attached. Piles of dry beans, ready for pulling from the vines were pulled, opened and sorted into big bowls of purple and black scarlet runner beans, black and white orca beans and brown and white rockwell beans. Students from SWA, and grades two, three and five participated in opening the magic beans and sorting them into type. We took the dried vines and empty pods to the compost bin.  Due to the enthusiastic students, we were able to get our entire crop of dry beans ready for storage and potential cooking.
Finally the energetic Grade Three students took buckets and shovels to move a big pile of leaves to make way for the load of rich compost that was delivered last week outside the western side of the garden fence.

The garden may look empty, however it’s just a moment in time as we prepare for spring planting. The students are learning to care for the land and grow food by participating in activities that honor the rhythm of the seasons all year long.

As we sing in our garden song:

It’s all in the rhythm of the earth…

It’s all in the rhythm of the sun…

It’s all in the rhythm of the moon…

It’s all in the rhythm of rain…

It’s all in the rhythm of our heart…


Posted in Updates from the garden!

The new season has begun!

It has been a ferocious winter with lots of rain, freezing weather and snow, but in between the gusts and downpours, the students have been helping to turn over cover crops and get the School Farm ready for the new growing season. We’ve started all classes K-5 and the students sowed peas to examine before being planted out.

The pumpkins fertilizing our fruit trees are decomposing quite nicely. The dwarf scotch curly kale is quite sweet and delicious, a favorite with the children. And quite spectacularly, Val Twomey’s class helped move the veggie tunnel! Never underestimate the capacity of 20 second graders!

Posted in Updates from the garden!

We met the match… and more!


From L to R: Kevin Engstrom, Linda Racicot, Jo Moccia, Sandy Whiting, Cary Peterson, Marian Myszkowski, Charlie McKissrick

big-check-cake-heart_8591A happy crowd gathered at the Goose Grocer to celebrate the generous $73,575.36 check that Goosefoot and the Goose donated to the School Farm and Garden Program!

A lovely cake with a heartfelt wordle, and carrots and kale harvested from the Big Acre rounded out the festivities.

A huge thank you from all the farmers, teachers and volunteers who work to make this program happen. We couldn’t have done it with Goosefoot and the Goose!



Thanks to the wonderful generosity and support of our community, Goosefoot has met the match… and more! $36,787.68 was donated and the Goose Grocer is going to match it all!

Come to the big check ceremony on Thursday, Feb. 2nd at 4 pm at the Goose Grocer. Goosefoot will be presenting the South Whidbey School District with a check for $73,575.36 for the School Farm and Garden program!

Read the Press Release HERE.

An enormous thank you to Goosefoot and the Goose Grocer, and to our community!

Posted in Funding support, Goose Grocer, Goosefoot

Support the school garden program and help us meet a $30,000 match!

The Goose Grocer is offering a $30,000 match this year for the School Farm and Garden Program and the Goosefoot Community Fund is raising the match! We need your support and generous contribution!

goosematch Click HERE to donate and write School Gardens in the comments section, or send a check to Goosefoot Community Fund, PO Box 114, Langley, WA 98260 with School Gardens on the memo line.

Your contributions are essential for this program to continue to thrive and grow!

Click HERE to download our 2016 flyer!


Posted in Funding support, Goose Grocer, Goosefoot

A wonderful Thanksgiving Harvest Feast!

img_6623-1-copyOver 850 students, parents and family members. teachers and staff enjoyed a delightful Thanksgiving Feast at the Elementary School on Thursday, Nov. 17th! On the menu from the School Farm was mashed potatoes, roasted squash, kale salad, carrot sticks and pumpkin pie, all made from veggies grown by the students. Everyone was able to enjoy the farm feast, and the cafeteria also had their traditional turkey dinner to purchase. It was quite the banquet!

The fourth grade classes of Ms. Raley, Ms. Stanley and Ms. Kizer made artwork for the table decorations. Students from the third, fourth and fifth grade classes came down to the WIN kitchen and helped with the preparation of the food.

John LaVassar’s fifth grade class decorated the tables with tablecloths and flowers, accented by lovely artwork from the Fourth Grade classes. The fifth grade classes of Ms. Muncey, Mr. Callahan and Ms. Callahan enthusiastically served up the dishes. Enjoy these photos below, and click on a photo to start the slide show.

A HUGE THANK YOU to all the farm team staff and volunteers who helped make this feast such a success!


Liza Elman and Jenny Goff coordinated all the food preparation, and the cooking classes with the children, Nadean Curtiss and Jude Bierman organized all the school activities with recipe books, artwork, table decorations, cooking classes and serving coordination. The School Farm and Middle School Garden, managed by Kevin Dunham with help from the students, provided over 500 pounds of potatoes, pumpkins, squash, kale and carrots. Melinda Gardiner and Whidbey Island Nourishes helped with kitchen logistics and volunteer recruitment for veg prep and cooking. On the day of the feast, the serving team of Suzannah Dalzell, Christine Johnson, Peter Martin, Susanne Newbold and Joe Wizenand, mentored the students who filled hundreds and hundreds of plates with food.

It was a delicious and nourishing culminating event for our season!  The students have now put the farm to bed for the winter and will resume classes in January. We’ll start preparing next fall’s feast when we plant the potatoes, pumpkins and squash this spring!

Enjoy this menu presentation from these fifth grade students!

Posted in Events, Harvest, Thanksgiving feast