Jordan Carter is the Education Coordinator for DC Greens and point of contact for DC Greens’ School Garden Market program. In his role, he co-manages 20 Market Champions, and coordinates SGM logistics with the 14 participating SGM Managers, and the Common Market. This month we asked him, “When was your Farm to School ‘aha moment?” Here’s his reply:
Cultivating a school garden is a very special thing. Students, teachers, administrators, and parents alike are brought together to reap the fruits of their labor, or bliss of what their child or student was able to grow and harvest. While implementing an 8-week nutrition intervention with 90 fourth grade students in Whittier, California the students and I were able to transition an eye sore into a green space for the school community. While this intervention got many of students to think about the food growth process, nutrition, and connected them and their families to farmers in the region, I wish I could have given the students so much more.
As the Education Coordinator with DC Greens, I’ve been able to champion the School Garden Market program logistics with SGM Managers and the Common Market to ensure students can deepen their connection to healthy food via a student run farmers’ market. Interacting with SGM managers and students during site visits to SGM’s and school cafeterias across the district has enabled me to continue the work I discovered in California, and support change makers of all ages. I’m thrilled this Fall 2017 SGM season is off to a great start, and that students across the district are gaining hands on experiences growing, procuring, and selling healthy food to their school communities.
Last week, we kicked off our 8th season of the School Garden Market program at 17 schools across the city including 9 new schools. This means nearly 200 students will be actively engaged in running a School Garden Market at their school this Fall!
For those unfamiliar, a School Garden Market is a student run farm stand, stocked with produce from their garden, and supplemented with offerings from DC Greens’ K Street Farm and the Common Market, a Pennsylvania-based food hub missioned to connect communities with good food from sustainable family farms. This weekly program turns schools into healthy food access points within low-income communities, and transforms students into ambassadors for local and sustainably-grown fruits and vegetables. All the while, students gain hands-on math and marketing skills, raise money for their school garden program, and create connections between local farms and their school community. Learn more about the program HERE.
Our Fall 2017 orientation boasted several speakers covering a range of topics including:
- Nony Dutton from FRESHFARM Markets gave a marketing 101 presentation and shared their resources to enable SNAP purchases at schools’ markets.
- Maddie Morales from the Common Market spoke about produce selection, pricing, farmer profiles and other ways to extend schools’ market season through Common Market partnerships.
- Leo Horrigan from Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future presented on their FoodSpan Curriculum and ways to deepen educational opportunities through School Garden Markets.
- Malka Roth from City Blossoms shared their new Garden Gastronomy curriculum and ideas for value add products and taste tests.
This Fall you can expect to see a wide variety of delicious produce at School Garden Markets including root vegetables, winter squash, mushrooms, dark leafy greens, onions, herbs, apples, pears and more! To find a market near you, click here! For more information or to start a School Garden Market at your school, email Jordan@dcgreens.org!
Maddie Morales is the Outreach Coordinator for The Common Market and procurement specialist for DC Greens’ School Garden Market program. In her role, she partners with sustainable farmers across the Mid-Atlantic and supplies school garden markets with fresh produce. This month we asked her, “When was your Farm to School ‘aha’ moment?” Here’s her reply:
While I was working for FoodCorps, I had the opportunity to work directly in schools with students of all ages to improve the culture of health through food. We cooked, tasted and tried new things in the classroom, garden and cafeteria. The more we engaged with new foods, the more student excitement grew to keep trying new things! I quickly learned that my students were curious, open and excited about foods they had never tasted before. From hummus and green smoothies, to raw lunchbox peppers and sungold tomatoes, the students were excited about trying the things they grew and made. Many students wanted to share this excitement with their families and bring recipes home to make again.
However, I soon realized that finding the fresh, tasty vegetables, like the ones growing in our school garden was much more difficult in our surrounding community. Eating local food was a novelty and only available to certain parts of the community I was a part of. This “aha” moment, led me to my work with The Common Market.
At the Common Market, we believe that fresh, local, delicious food should be readily available to all people, regardless of zip code. We work with institutions like public schools, universities, hospitals, restaurants and retailers to get more local on their menu and help make the local choice the easy choice for everyone.
I am so excited to be able to supply DC Greens’ School Garden Markets with fresh produce from our sustainable farm partners across the Mid-Atlantic so that students and their families across DC can continue to cook and eat delicious, fresh meals together.
Roxanne Bentley is the Enrichment Resource Teacher and School Garden Manager at Murch Elementary. In her role, she enriches students knowledge of Farm to School, and provides an opportunity for students to strengthen their entrepreneurial skills.
This month we asked her, “When was your Farm to School ‘aha’ moment?” Here’s her reply:
“Having a school market garden is a very special thing. It attracts all types of students. You have your business acumen types, your marketers, your garden stand sellers, but mostly you have a venue for kids to learn what it means to move produce from farm to table. And as the students at Murch have learned, it is a process that does not always guarantee a strong profit. For example, what was a good seller one week, may or may not be the next week. SGM created opportunities for students to be flexible in their market plans, including growing herbs so they would be super fresh for market; and handing out recipes for “unusual” vegetables. We can’t wait to go at it again this Fall.”
Jon Wirth is the School Garden Coordinator for Education Coordinator and School Garden Manager at DC Prep’s Elementary Campuses in Edgewood, Benning, and Anacostia in Washington, DC. In his role he facilitates experiential learning with a core focus on food, and produce procurement for DC Prep’s SGM program.
This month we asked him, “When was your Farm to School ‘aha’ moment?” Here’s his reply:
As the School Garden Coordinator for DC Prep’s Elementary Campuses in Edgewood, Benning, and Anacostia, I have the opportunity to garden with our young people every day. We learn about water retention, germination, pollination, soil (err, “dirt”) and much else. So much else that I’ve taken to framing our many lessons through a single lens: food. We don’t tackle large policy questions around food security or municipal waste streams, or ag production questions like, “How much can we produce? How quickly can we produce it? Or, how quickly can we get it to consumers?”
Rather, I encourage our students to experience the garden in all of its gustatory wonder. To think like worms, butterflies, and bees. “Why are there worms in the soil?” Food. “Why are there insects in the air?” Food. “Why are we in the garden?” Food! These are simplifications to be sure, but they serve an important purpose. Urban gardens are science laboratories and exercise studios and centers of civic engagement. But they are also the best chance we have for assuring that our young people have a healthy relationship to food. My personal “aha moment” came in the last week of school. A heat wave and impending summer thunderstorm kept us indoors. We are in the middle of making a favorite guacamole recipe …
“2 cloves garlic”
Marvin’s on the garlic.
“2 juicy limes”
Nasiah’s on the limes.
Another teacher walks in, takes a whiff and asks the student next to her,
“What are you all making Duron?”
“We’re making BUG FOOOOD!”
I’ll take it.
Victoria Mirowski is the Education Coordinator and School Garden Manager at Cultivate the City in Washington, DC. In her role, she facilitates the produce procurement and distribution for CTC run CSA programs across the city.
This month we asked her, “When was your Farm to School ‘aha’ moment?” Here’s her reply:
In our garden, we strive to educate beyond the plants and produce, to cultivate an appreciation for the garden’s entire ecosystem. From the earthworms, to the bees, to the pests and diseases each component is playing a part. Thus, the teaching opportunities are endless, and with classes of eager students, I can say with confidence that I never have just one ‘aha’ moment. They happen often and my students are sometimes the best teachers.
Throughout the year, I encourage my students to watch the garden with mindfulness. A garden is a place full of smells, textures, and tastes, which can overwhelm our sense. Some of the most important moments come when we stop, cultivate presence of mind, and simply observe-what has changed, what is growing, what has died, and why? Recently during our garden time, a student led me to a peach tree to show me its leaves, certain that something was wrong. Sure enough, that student had discovered, before I had, that the tree was suffering from Leaf Curl, a disease caused by the fungus Taphrina deformans. This moment- where a student was able to observe their surroundings, pull from past observations, and draw their own conclusion- is magical.
Teaching children about fresh fruits and vegetables is central to cultivating healthier lifestyles. And teaching them to observe and appreciate all of the subtle details and interactions within the garden ecosystem makes them feel more invested and involved in the process. I have ‘aha’ moments daily, and if they never stop….neither will I.