|In this issue:
Introducing Farm to School Hubs
NHFTS is excited to be piloting a new project this year to help increase farm-to-school activity in different regions of the state that are sometimes difficult for us to reach given our small staff and location on the Seacoast. Working with partners in three areas -- the Monadnock region, the Upper Valley region, and the North Country region -- NHFTS has established NH Farm to School Hubs to advance projects specifically focused on that region. NHFTS staff will continue to serve the state, with a particular focus on the Seacoast region. Read on to find out more about what is happening in these hubs.
1) Monadnock Region
At Stonewall Farm in Keene, under the direction of the school program coordinator Sarah Antel, a garden toolkit will be available for schools to borrow. The toolkit will consist of a 5 gallon bucket with potting soil, seeds, 5 sets of children’s gloves, 5 sets of hand rakes and 5 sets of trowels. A lesson plan will accompany the kit.
According to Stonewall Farm,”It is our belief that if the students are eating the food that they grow, then they will develop a direct connection to their food and where it comes from; then, when a farmer’s produce is introduced into the cafeteria’s menu, the children will be more likely to try the new foods that are offered because they have already forged a relationship with growing food and trying new and fresh foods.“
The toolkit was presented to teachers and administrators of the Monadnock Region as well as many community members at an annual forum which occurred on November 3rd, whose theme was Farm to School.
2) Upper Valley Region
The Upper Valley Farm to School Network, led by Peter Allison, will plan and host several workshops in the Upper Valley of New Hampshire. The first workshop happened on November 4th at the Lyme Elementary School from 3:00-6:00 pm. The topic was "Overcoming common barriers to using local, fresh food in school cafeterias".
3) North Country Region
Julie Moran of North Country Farm Fresh Cooperative will be conducting a survey of schools in 15 Coos County communities to assess their use of local foods and obstacles they may have to buying local. She will also research farms in Coos County to determine the potential for production to meet school needs. She plans to develop a list of people currently involved in farm to school activities or those who would like to be involved.
Henniker Community School 25 mile lunch
The Menu: Eggs, Sausage Patties, Roasted potatoes, applesauce, apple bread pudding with NH maple syrup and apples.
Porkside Farm in Henniker for ground pork
Davison Farm in Henniker for potatoes
Buxton Farm in Weare for eggs
French Pond Orchard in Henniker for apples
Marty Davis’s backyard for maple syrup
Marty Davis has been working at the Henniker Community School as a registered dietician and food service director for five years. Over the years, she has increased meal participation in the school lunch program which, thanks to her efforts, now runs in the black. Her approach is to be friendly to the students and also talk with parents individually about the lunch program to assure them that all students (whether free, reduced or paid) get the same meals. The 25-mile lunch is part of a program called "Eating Around the World", which starts with New Hampshire. Next month's meal will feature recipes from Afghanistan.
The NH lunch included sausage patties, eggs and potatoes with a choice of an apple, apple bread pudding or applesauce. The lunch also featured Rick Daniel who demonstrated cider making with his cider press.
Marty has also implemented a nutrition question of the week. This week students were asked to determine "What vegetable is this?" She works with the dietetic interns from Keene State who come and provide nutrition education to the fourth graders.
Don Gage, a parent in Henniker, said "I want to express how great it has been having Marty working at our school and her commitment to healthy eating. Our school lunch program was basically a heat and serve operation before Marty came on board. Her background and a school board committed to healthy school lunches, even if it did mean going in the red for a few years, have come together to create a school lunch program that I believe is top notch. Meals are cooked from scratch. I remember the day my son came home during the first year that Marty took over and said - we had real soup today. I was a little puzzled about what "real soup" was. He explained that it was cooked at school - I asked, "Isn't soup always cooked at school?" He was frustrated with me and went in great lengths to explain that it was made from scratch, he could identify all of the ingredients! That was the first of many conversations about real food, served with real silverware! No one told him it was made from scratch - he knew from the taste! Marty's ground work in moving the lunch program from a heat and serve to a "cooking" kitchen has allowed the community to explore eating locally. Marty has spearheaded the quest to provide more local foods to our kids. Fresh, "made from scratch," good food. I applaud her 25 mile meal and look forward to our kids eating locally more at Henniker Community Schools."
Kearsarge local foods lunch-October 7, 2010
The Menu: Meatloaf, Roasted Potatoes, Acorn Squash, Baked Apple and Upside Down Cake
Miles Smith Farm, Loudon: Ground Beef
Vegetable Ranch, Warner: Potatoes
Muster Field Farm, North Sutton: Acorn Squash, Apples
Hopewell Farm, Newbury: Potatoes
The meal was prepared by the Kearsarge High School Culinary Arts students led by Chef Keith Brooks. The culinary students will also be preparing a Thanksgiving meal in November for the student body. Cheri White worked with area farms to obtain the main ingredients for the meal.
"Chefs Move to Schools" in Portsmouth
"Chefs Move to Schools" is part of the "Lets Move!" campaign initiated by First Lady Michelle Obama. The idea is for chefs to get involved in their communities by adopting a school and working with teachers, parents and school nutrition professionals to educate kids about food and nutrition.
The first ever "NH Chefs Move to Schools" event happened in Portsmouth on October 27. Chef Simon Lamper, owner of "Four" restaurant on State Street in Portsmouth, volunteered to spend half a day at the Little Harbor School helping prepare and serve a harvest meal that featured roast turkey and gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, roasted root vegetables, cranberry sauce, local apples from Applecrest Orchard in Hampton Falls and pumpkin muffins. The kids loved seeing a uniformed chef in the kitchen and most chose the harvest lunch over the tunafish sandwich option. Chef Simon plans to make a monthly appearance to encourage the students to eat and try more vegetables. The Little Harbor School also has a school garden that has provided lettuce and tomatoes regularly to the cafeteria.
UNH Thompson School Students Visit Farms and Schools
The following stories are written by Dietetic Tech students at the Thompson School of Applied Science here at UNH. One of the requirements of their program is to work in various aspects of community nutrition. This year, the NH Farm to School program asked them to find out about farm to school relationships in the seacoast area. Students learned about agriculture and local fresh food by visiting farms of various sizes and then visiting the schools that received some of their products. They also had a chance to speak with the food service directors at these schools about their school lunch program, school nutrition and how local foods are used in school cafeterias.
Stout Oak Farm & Epping Schools
By Kim Adie and Kristine Berube, UNH-TSAS students
Stout Oak Farm is located in Epping New Hampshire and managed by Kate Donald. Kate recently moved to this location last December and loves the new landscape and capabilities the property offers. Kate has been farming for ten years, her passion being cultivated when she joined AmeriCorps after college and was placed in Oregon. She took a certificate course in California which she described as a “crash course” in farming.
The Stout Oak Farm property is completely organic, something Kate feels extremely committed to. In order to stay an organic farm, she cannot use any pesticides or chemicals on her crops other than approved methods set by the USDA. Kate describes her biggest challenge as the unpredictable New England weather. The weather in this area of the country can go from warm and sunny to a hail storm in a matter of hour. Kate says while it’s difficult to predict how the growing season will go, it helps that the people who buy from her realize this and accept the fact that they might not get their arugula order. Time is also a huge challenge for Kate because she is the only one running the farm. Sometimes she has friends help and she said that next year she is looking to hire a few people but for now she is solely responsible for everything. From cultivating the land, planting, watering, weeding, picking, cleaning, packaging and delivering her produce, she does it all.
While the farm isn’t the largest in New England, it spans only about 6 acres, Kate utilizes her space well and grows a wide variety of items including three different types of tomatoes, squashes and pumpkins, cucumbers, eggplant, a variety of chilies, peppers, several types of lettuces and herbs which she picks and dries by hand. Kate distributes her products at farmers' markets and by selling to local restaurants. When we visited, she had just begun working with the Epping School District providing them with grape tomatoes and green peppers for their salad bar. She loves the idea of Farm to School and hopes to work with Veronica Bush, the foodservice director for Epping schools, more next school year. At the moment, Kate is able to deliver the produce for a mere $8/delivery. Veronica agrees that while the produce is a little more expensive than buying from a wholesale provider, it is all around worth it. She has recently taken the job of foodservice director and is busy making a lot of changes.
Showing the students that some of their lunch is locally provided has taken a back seat to other challenges that need to be solved. The school is small, serving only 500 students, but requires Veronica to be more than just the director. She has to manage a cash register and work with so many different aspects of the lunch process that she says she is stretched too thin to really worry about the Farm to School problem. For now, the grape tomatoes and green peppers on the salads will have to do. She does express interest in getting more produce in the future and working to teach the kids more about what they are eating and where it comes from.
Applecrest Farm & Exeter Schools
By Kim Adie and Kristine Berube, UNH-TSAS students
Applecrest Farm is the oldest and the largest apple orchard in New Hampshire. It is a fourth generation farm led and owned by the Wagner family. Todd Wagner, who currently runs the farm, grew up with this way of life and chose to continue the family’s legacy simply because of the love he has for this place and also because it’s “in his blood”.
Farming at a large farm such as Applecrest is a break-even job and the farmers spread themselves very thin. Fortunately, Applecrest farmers love their way of life even if it is challenging at times and they work hard to produce quality products year after year. Applecrest Farm produces more than 40 different varieties of apples, peaches, berries, sweet corn, pumpkins, and a surplus of summer vegetables. The produce is grown by combining traditional farming methods as well as incorporating new modern day cutting edge technology. Applecrest farmers do much of the labor that goes into maintaining a farm by hand and they strive to integrate pest management control and use as little of the safest pesticides as possible.
Applecrest farm has many ways in which they distribute their quality grown products. Applecrest hosts “pick your own” produce at their farm and they have a farm stand on site where you can purchase fresh Applecrest produce as well as homemade jams and other farm goods. Applecrest also attends multiple farmers' markets in the area such as Portsmouth, Newburyport, Durham, Hampton, Rye, and Exeter. Applecrest distributes their produce through the Farm to School program and works with seven different local schools.
The Exeter Township School District is one of the New Hampshire districts that participate in the Farm to School program and purchases items from Applecrest as well as other farms in the area. Exeter purchases items such as fish, squash, zucchini and apples. One of the major challenges of a school working with farms, says Jeanne Pierce who runs the food service at Exeter, is the availability of the products as well as the quantity in which a farm can supply them. Due to limited availability and the size of the Exeter school system, the district gets their locally grown food from many different local and regional farms.
Exeter Schools' food services strive to use the lunch period as a time to teach students on a daily basis. They demonstrate the importance of wellness as well as sustainability with posters and displays throughout the lunchroom. Although purchasing locally grown can cost more money, Exeter claims that it is all a balancing act. When you do pay more for better quality produce or locally grown foods you can balance it out in the pricing of side dishes and other meals given throughout the week. Exeter food services gets positive feedback from students who appreciate knowing where their food is coming from and that it is locally grown. This gives administrators at Exeter more of an incentive to continue to buy locally. Exeter Schools are joining the sustainability movement and supporting it as much as they can and will continue to participate in the Farm to School program.
The recently formed Citizens for Community Wellness had their first meeting at Exeter High School. This group's mission is to bring action and awareness to improving the food supply of the schools and communities of the seacoast by making more Farm to School connections and establishing more school gardens.
For more Farm to School stories by Thompson School students, go to:
Winter Farmers' Market
Apple Cider Still Available!
Carter Hill Orchard in Concord offers their cider in 8 oz. containers. If you're interested in purchasing these for your school, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, contact Favorite Foods or email Stacey at email@example.com
NH Farm to School
Upper Valley Farm to School
National Farm to School Network
NH Farm to School on Facebook
Henniker Community School Food
Service Director, Marty Davis
"Eating Around the World"--
first stop, New Hampshire
Weighing produce at Stout Oak Farm
Drying garlic at Stout Oak Farm
Jars of jam at Applecrest Farm
Applecrest Harvest Festival Stage
New Hampshire Farm to School (NHFTS) is a program of the University of New Hampshire's Sustainability Academy. NHFTS
is grateful for the generous support of Share Our Strength and the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.
NH Farm to School Program
University of New Hampshire
Durham, NH 03824