“It’s time for this movement to explode! I’m very excited about what’s happening here.”
– Kathleen Merrigan, USDA, on the Washington, DC Farm to School Movement
The week of October 12-15 2010 marked the second annual D.C. Farm to School Week – a celebration of farm-fresh fruits and veggies in D.C. schools! In total, 28 schools coordinated events and over 500 students participated in farm field trips where they harvested local produce and learned about farming in the region. And more than 1,100 students participated in cooking demonstrations where professional chefs prepared local foods with students in healthy, delicious ways.
Throughout the week, school menus featured locally grown produce in dishes such as salads and seasoned vegetables; and served over 30,000 students in cafeterias across the District. For example, Revolution Foods celebrated the week by serving carrot, raisin and apple salad in each of its D.C. schools. DC Central Kitchen featured local honey apple braised collard greens and Chatewells served asian slaw with locally grown cabbage to DCPS students.
The week began with a kick-off celebration marking the start of D.C. Farm to School Week and D.C. School Garden Week. We were joined by White House Chef Sam Kass, White House Pastry Chef Bill Yosses and Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan. The program featured a Top Chef-style competition between four local chefs and their student assistants. Student judges voted Chef Tee and his apple cranberry crisp as the winner! Keep your eyes peeled for his recipe in DCPS school meals this December.
D.C. school children visited both rural and urban farms to learn about farm life and to be a part of growing and harvesting food. Kids picked apples, harvested kale, explored greenhouses and even held warm chicken eggs. Two farmers even traveled to the schools, brought truckloads of produce, seeds for planting and a 12-pound cabbage that kept the kids talking for days!
“When they came back from the farm, the kids were so excited and ready to share. They were introduced to the origins of vegetables , which I don’t think they really knew. Now they may be willing to explore something different, something they may not have tried before.”
– Principal Angela Tilghman, Garfield Elementary
More than 1,100 students had the opportunity to participate in cooking demonstrations with a host of dynamic local chefs. Many prepared recipes using the fruits and vegetables they harvested earlier in the week. Students prepared kale salads, braised apples and collard greens, tomato bread salads, and tofu vegetable dumplings, among other healthy recipes highlighting seasonal and local produce. For many students, this was their first time ever tasting leafy greens like kale and chard, and fall crops like squash and sweet potatoes. They were asking for seconds and thirds!
“I’ve never seen so many kids eat salads!”
– Parent organizer at Brent Elementary
D.C. Farm to School Week was more than just classroom lessons about growing food and eating healthy – it was a chance for our entire community to come together. Chefs, grocers and restaurants shared their time and talents with students; farmers opened their fields to inquisitive children; and parents helped coordinate events. We saw a community working together to grow a healthier generation.