|Shrimp Tasting in Portsmouth
Students at Little Harbor School in Portsmouth got a taste of locally caught shrimp on "Try It" day in May. Each month on "Try It" day, kids are encouraged to try a food that's not normally found on the school lunch menu, such as pomegranate, grapefruit, or avocados. The local shrimp were caught by the Anderson family whose boat, the Rimrack, works out of Rye Harbor. Padi Anderson brought along photos of her family catching shrimp and fish, and Carolyn Eastman of Eastman's Fish in Seabrook played a video showing how to peel and prepare NH shrimp.
School Nutrition Director Pat Laska at Little Harbor School
Chef Dan Dumont of Wentworth By The Sea developed a special recipe for the tasting - chilled shrimp tossed with olive oil, pineapple, red onion, cilantro, chives, salt and pepper. Each child got to try 2 or 3 pieces, and some responded with enthusiasm! "Really yummy. Thumbs up," said one second grader. Another said "Shrimp rocks!" An enthusiastic fifth grader said, "I just like to try new things." Other comments included "Loved it" and "I want some more." Some students didn't want to try the shrimp and some didn't like it but overall it was a hit.
The shrimp tasting was a great success thanks to the collaborative effort of Padi Anderson, Carolyn Eastman, food service director Pat Laska, Stacey Purslow from NH Farm to School, and chef Dan Dumont. Additional support was provided by parent volunteer Karen Mountjoy and the kitchen staff at Little Harbor School.
Locally caught fish will be on school menus in Portsmouth and Exeter during the month of June.
McKenzie's Farm, Milton, NH
McKenzie's Farm is a family-owned farm on 25 acres on top of Plummers Ridge in Milton, just around the corner from the NH Farm Museum. The McKenzies are currently harvesting tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers from their 14 greenhouses. They also grow apples, raspberries, field tomatoes, and other assorted vegetables. Starting next year, they also plan to offer peaches and blueberries. In addition to fresh produce, the farm stand offers many NH made products, flowers and vegetable seedlings. Their greenhouse vegetables are now available at their farm stand and you can also find them at the Portsmouth Farmers' Market on Saturdays. Raspberries will be available starting around the 4th of July.
McKenzie's greenhouse cucumbers and tomatoes, May 2010
McKenzie's Farm also sells to Golden Harvest in Kittery and to Hannaford supermarkets. Because of these wholesale accounts, the farm is becoming GAP certified. Good Agricultural Practices are guidelines developed by the USDA to help ensure food safety. Linda Hescock, the food service director for the Milton schools and Janet Glidden at the Paul School in Wakefield will be buying from McKenzie's this fall.
For more information about the farm visit their website, www.mckenziesfarm.com. If you’re headed up or down Route 16 this summer, get off at exit 17 or 18 and stop by the farm and the farm museum. The McKenzies are a super nice family and would love to have you come for a visit. If you choose a clear day, expect to see Mt. Washington!
Two Mountain Farm Coordinates Building of School Garden in Andover
Katherine Darling, manager of Two Mountain Farm in Andover, NH proposed to the local school board last fall the installation of a community vegetable garden on the grounds of the Andover Elementary/Middle School. The project description and proposal were approved and groundbreaking began this May. Six raised beds were created with the help of 15 volunteers. Thanks to donations from Dirt Doctors and Springledge Farm, loam and manure filled the beds. The beds have been planted with peas, chard, kale, lettuce, and edible flowers. Joining them soon will be tomatoes, cucumbers and pumpkins.
On June 4, the first lettuce was harvested and used in the cafeteria at lunch on sandwiches. Kat’s extensive proposal and more information and pictures about the project can be found at the farm's website, www.twomountainfarm.wordpress.com
Two Mountain Farm, located on Shaw Hill Road, has a roadside stand, a CSA and sells at the Wilmot Farmers’ Market. Items for sale include vegetables, cut flowers, raspberries and fresh eggs. The land was first settled as a farm in 1769.
Farm to Cafeteria Conference, Detroit, MI
Taking Root, the Fifth National Farm to School Conference took place in Detroit this May. Almost 700 people attended, representing every US state and Canada. Participants included teachers, farmers, food service directors, students, non-profits dedicated to relieving hunger, farm to school coordinators, the USDA and the CDC. Why Detroit you may ask? Detroit is a city with a dwindling population caused by the economic downturn. The current mayor and other city officials decided something had to be done with the abandoned buildings and properties. This effort has resulted in 59 community vegetable gardens, and counting! Another project has led to the reopening of a dozen recreation centers that had closed. The city has long term goals to transform itself and has been very creative in its approach.
The conference included a slide show about farm to school in every state. I chose to submit a photo of a NH fisherman catching shrimp because I thought it would be unique to the event and it was! I also participated in a poster session which required producing a laminated poster showing the various ways farm to school happens in New Hampshire. The poster will continue to be used at events around the state.
Winners of the Cooking Up Change National Health Cooking Contest were announced and the recipes from the 3 finalists were served for lunch. The contest is open to high school culinary teams and the rules are to create a healthy school lunch on a budget and in adherence to nutrition guidelines. A Native American team from southwest Arizona won this year. It is my hope that next year a team or two from New Hampshire will enter the contest. If your school's culinary program is interested in participating let me know!
Kathleen Merrigan, the Deputy Secretary of the USDA, was the keynote speaker one morning. She has always been in support of farm to school programs. However, federal funding in the form of grants for farm to school depends on Congress passing the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act.
Other resources I heard about at the conference include:
One more thing: Is your school interested in partnering with NH Made to develop school fundraising opportunities? If so, let me know!
- Food Corps, an AmeriCorps program in development that will focus on school gardens and farm to school. Under the Kennedy Serve America Act, AmeriCorps is slated to triple in size by 2017. The goal of Food Corps is to put some of those resources to work bringing fresh food and garden-based education to schools with the highest rates of childhood obesity and to those with limited access to fresh, affordable food. Check out www.food-corps.org for more information.
- The Lunch Box, scheduled to be launched in July, is a project of F3: Food Family Farming Foundation, led by Ann Cooper, aka the renegade lunch lady! The Lunch Box aims to provide "healthy tools to help all schools."
- Lunch Line, a documentary about the history of the school lunch program premiered at the conference. Find out more at facebook.com/lunchlinefilm
- Stacey Purslow
The farm stand at McKenzie's Farm
This Spring, NH Farm to School organized several matchmaking events that brought together food service directors and farmers. These events were opportunities for farmers to talk about their farms and for the schools to communicate their needs to the farmers. One result is the shrimp and fish to school that's happening in Portsmouth and Exeter. Stacey plans to organize more matchmaking events around the state next year in January and February, when farmers are planning for their next growing season.
Apple Cider 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 or email Stacey at email@example.com
NH Farm to School
Upper Valley Farm to School
National Farm to School Network
2010 NH Farmers' Markets
Chickens at Two Mountain Farm
Andover students planting seeds
In the News
New Hampshire school children getting healthy by eating fresh, local food, NHLGC's New Hampshire Town & City, June 2010
More NH schools buy locally grown food, Eagle Tribune, May 29, 2010
Seacoast schools have healthy, local options on menu, Portsmouth Herald, May 2, 2010
NH Farm to School Program
University of New Hampshire
Durham, NH 03824