August Farm to School Partner Highlight


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.”

July Farm to School Partner Highlight

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:

jworthAs 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.

June Farm to School Partner Highlight

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.
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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.

May Farm to School Partner Highlight

Malka Roth is the Lead Educator and Coordinator at City Blossoms in Washington, DC. In her role, she gets students excited about the outdoor classroom and empowers them through garden education.

IMG_6825This month we asked her, “When was your Farm to School ‘aha’ moment?”

Here’s her reply:

My farm to school ‘aha’ moment took place several years ago while I was working in upstate New York at a non-secure juvenile detention facility. I was teaching for their summer program as well as working as an enrichment coordinator, connecting local organizations and opportunities for growth to the young men who lived at the facility.

During the summer we were able to get approval to travel to a nearby college one day a week and work with them on their newly established farm. For all of my students, most of whom came from New York City, this was a new experience.

This was also my first time stepping onto a farm. We were all blown away, finding joy in picking spicy radishes from the earth, stepping close to their beehives and bringing back yellow watermelon for everyone to enjoy. It was during those afternoons that I saw students who struggled to stay focused and engaged in the classroom excited by everything around them. It was in those moments that I began to see the potential of nature as a classroom.


April Farm to School Partner Highlight

Ryoko Yamamoto is the Garden Coordinator at Capital City PCS in Washington, DC. In her role, she connects students to their local food system with environmental and garden education.


This month we asked her, “When was your Farm to School ‘aha’ moment?” Here’s her reply:

In our garden, we grow abundance of vegetables and herbs. Herbs are widely used for cooking and craft, come in many varieties, and provide students with constant discovery of something new.

Every week in July I teach lessons with new garden-based recipes for our elementary students. To begin the lesson, I asked my 4th graders a common question: “What’s your favorite vegetable or fruit?” Students called out, “Strawberries!” “Orange tomatoes!” “Cucumbers!” Then one student said, “I like the one with red flower that you can drink the nectar from”. Among all garden foods he tried past years, he chose Bee Balm, a delicate red flower and an incredibly important pollinator, attracting bees and butterflies which then pollinate the other herbs and flowers in the garden. His answer really struck me because in years past, I spent time teaching this same group of students about how honeybees collect nectar from flowers and had students mimic their behavior. They took turns sampling small amounts of the sweet and subtle nectar from the Bee Balm and this boy had remembered the lesson.

Moments like watching students use all their senses to taste and experience unfamiliar but exciting new flavors is deeply inspiring to me. When we are introduced new flavors from real foods at a young age, we create positive associations with trying new things that lasts a lifetime. Seasonality and trying these foods amongst friends in a safe and celebrated space such as a schools garden is also important. Tasting foods is an all encompassing experience and herbs (and flowers!) are a great way to expose students to new flavors.

March Farm to School Partner Highlight

Kristen Rowe is the Nutrition and Compliance Specialist at DCPS Food and Nutrition Services in Washington, DC. In her role, she ensures DCPS meals are compliant with the National School Lunch and Breakfast program. Learn more about her farm to school ‘aha’ moment here!


This month we asked her, “When was your Farm to School ‘aha’ moment?” Here’s her reply:

My farm-to-school “aha” moment came early in my career as a dietitian when I was working for the Arkansas Department of Education’s Child Nutrition Unit. I was observing my first Fresh Fruit and Vegetable program, and the kids were commenting that they had never seen a whole carrot. When I was growing up, my grandparents had a farm and a garden, so I was regularly exposed to the process of taking food from a plant to the plate. I had taken these experiences for granted, and it wasn’t until that moment that I realized not all kids have the same opportunity I had to eat fresh, nutritious foods. From that moment forward, I made it my mission to continue educating children on nutrition and the journey food takes from the garden to the kitchen to the table. The more exposure and hands-on experience kids have with growing their own food, the more likely they are to eat healthy and establish positive, lifelong behaviors.

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