It Doesn’t Only Happen in the Kitchen
As we celebrate Farm-to-School (F2S) month, I’d like to point out how cool it is that F2S is not just something the kitchen does. A school that commits to the values also promotes agriculture in the classroom. Some schools decide to start gardens, with the produce going directly back into the kitchen. Other schools utilize educators, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program (SNAP) educators, who are trained to provide nutritional education and taste testing. Farmers visit classrooms and children visit farms. F2S is about both health and experience.
How Can Parents Get Involved
As parents or guardians of children, there are ways you can promote Farm-to-Table right at home. Here are some challenges to consider for the month (or beyond!):
- Invite your child to assist in making a dinner from scratch. I know, you’re probably thinking that it’s more of a hassle and it may result in longer clean-up, but there’s pride in serving a nice dinner. Be creative in how the kids assist. An easily homemade, customizable dinner would be pizza. Let the kids play with dough!
- Visit a farmer’s market. Although the season is winding down, you’ll be able to snag some squash, pumpkin, or root vegetables. Sartell also offers a farmer’s market throughout the winter with fresh eggs, meat, dried herbs, and baked and canned goods.
- Visit an apple orchard or pumpkin farm and pick fresh! Use the Minnesota Grown Directory to locate any farm who sells produce to consumers.
- Start an indoor herb garden. Herbs are simple to grow. They need a sunny window and some watering. There are many options to choose from: basil, oregano, parsley, cilantro, and mint are all great options.
- While we love F2S for its freshness, it is also a system to promote fruits and veggies. Even if you can’t get something fresh from the farm, go with the fruit and veggie route with taste tests. This is one strategy that schools use to introduce new products. You can try this at home by picking up a new fruit or vegetable and preparing it with dinner. Be a role model and show how you enjoy eating it.
- Have any friends who farm, either for work or hobby? Bring your kids out! Have them try milking an animal, if they are old enough. The interaction will be memorable!
- Use up the last of the summer harvest by canning (homemade tomato sauce), baking, or pickling.
I hope that some of these ideas inspire you to celebrate Farm-to-School. Happy eating!
This blog was written by Emily Ackerman.
Emily is the current MN GreenCorps member serving with CentraCare Health Foundation in the BLEND offices. Her project this year will be incorporating Farm-to-School initiatives into four sites within the St. Cloud area. Her education background includes a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology with hopes to attend PA school in the future. She is a self-described foodie with an interest in local gardens and creating better access to healthy food!