Contact: Jessica Weston, firstname.lastname@example.org, (802) 334-2044
October 9, 2019
Did you know? October is National Farm to School Month! Green Mountain Farm To School (GMFTS) was excited to celebrate this occasion with the successful completion of several Harvest Festivals at 11 different Northeast Kingdom Schools. These festivals are a unique culmination of the months of work put in by students, faculty, volunteers, and our own AmeriCorps Farm-to-School Coordinators. At each festival, students, families, and community members are invited to share a meal made collectively by students during the school day featuring food grown and harvested in their very own school garden.
Harvest Festivals reinforce farm-to-school programming by providing an opportunity for students to understand the process of planting a crop, harvesting it, and turning it into a healthy meal. Since most students were involved with planning, planting, and caring for their school gardens the previous spring, the Festivals were an exciting time for students to reap the benefits of their work and share that experience with their families and friends.
Alida Farrell, a second year AmeriCorps Farm to School Coordinator, was excited to share highlights from Orleans Elementary School’s Harvest Festival. Alida said that kids at Orleans helped decorate the cafeteria with pumpkins and corn stalks harvested from their school garden. For the meal, Kindergartners ripped up kale, while older kids sharpened their knife skills chopping up root vegetables and winter squash. All of the produce in the meal that was not sourced from the school garden was ordered through Farm Direct by the school’s Food Service Director, making this an entirely local meal! After a day spent harvesting, preparing, and cooking, the community gathered for a delicious meal of chili, garlic bread, coleslaw, kale chips, and apple crisp. Yum!
Harvest Festivals are a key component of GMFTS’s multifaceted approach to farm to school programming that reaches across the classroom, cafeteria, and community. The experience engages students in each step of the process, providing them with autonomy and ownership over their school garden. The experience also helps build students’ confidence in the kitchen – skills they can work on and practice outside of school.
We are excited by the success of this year’s Harvest Festivals and invite you to share your own experience from festivals you may have been a part of!