Seed Saving and Fresh Food for Lunch at LMS!
Our LMS/Good Cheer Garden provided a bountiful harvest this fall, under the guidance and expertise of Cary Peterson, master gardener, and the fabulous garden apprentices. Cary has been working hard throughout the district and with Chartwells, our food service provider. This work is part of the Fresh Food on the Table initiative, which promotes locally-grown food in the school lunch program.
It’s been a full fall season in the garden, integrating and enhancing our 7th Grade Science and STEM Enrichment studies. Much thanks to Cary and the garden apprentices who worked with the students throughout fall harvest and garden care activities.
In 7th Grade Life Science, we have been focusing on seed saving and helping bring LMS grown produce to the lunch table. Here are some highlights:
There are many great reasons to save seeds. Some of the ideas 7th Grade Science Students wrote about in their seed-savings journals and discussed in class are the following:
1. Saving seeds helps us learn about the complete plant life cycle, from seed to plant to seed again. Usually when we garden, we harvest the plants before they go to seed. It is cool to see and recognize how different plants look when they develop their seeds. For instance, lettuce grows stalks and the seed head has white fuzzy material and radishes have banana-shaped pods full of little round seeds.
2. Saving seeds is an age-old traditional skill that helps preserve certain varieties. It’s important to maintain a diversity of plants for the health of the soil as well as environmental and personal health.
3. We’ll be designing and carrying out experiments with the seeds we have saved and will be learning about the genetics of plants and different traits. We’ll be able to see what varieties grow best on Whidbey Island and also what foods are best for use in our school cafeteria.
4. Seed saving helps us connect to our food system. It gives us an awareness of where our food comes from and what it takes to grow food. It helps us understand how our choices are part of the food system. It helps develop an understanding of food produced by local small farmers as well as food produced by larger companies.
5. Saving and using our seeds can save money because we don’t have to buy seeds.
Grant Proposals: THANK YOU South Whidbey Schools Foundation!
We received a grant from South Whidbey Schools Foundation to support our projects! We are submitting a request to Whidbey Island Garden Tour, who has provided generous support in the past.
Two main goals: LMS-Grown for Lunch and Project-based Learning
The first goal is to meet food safety protocols from Chartwells, our food service provider, and the Washington State Department of Agriculture, so that we can use some of the food grown in the garden in the school cafeteria. The biggest challenge is to have a source of drinking-grade water for watering the garden. If we receive funding, we will be able to extend the water line from the school building to the garden. Students in STEM Enrichment Class will help research and design a cost-efficient system to accomplish this.
The second goal is to upgrade and maintain the garden and greenhouse to expand project-based learning opportunities in the garden, including extending the growing season for food we can provide to the cafeteria. There is a team of 7th Graders working on this project in STEM Enrichment Class.
We are hoping to purchase kits for benches, which will be assembled with Mr. Sage in Shop Class, and would provide work area for an entire class. This will allow any class in the school to use the garden as an outdoor classroom. We are also hoping to purchase canopies for sun and shade protections for both students and plants.
Food Safety Policies and Protocols
The exciting news is that food laws and policies have already been passed! Around the country, the Farm-to-School movement has been growing rapidly, and many schools are growing healthy and tasty food, improving the health and well-being of the students in a fun and educational way. Our project is unique because we will be one of the first schools in the country that works with Chartwells and will be following their school garden food safety protocols. They are very excited and hopeful that we will be able to do this! Cary has been working hard to make this happen.
Fresh Food for Lunch
If we are able to meet food safety protocols we would be able to offer some LMS-Grown food for lunch, which is fresh, tasty, and as local as you can get! The garden is not large, so the amount would be small, but the idea is BIG! Hopefully, this will encourage and inspire students to increase their intake of vegies and would also create more of a demand for local and fresh foods, which would help our local family farmers. The kitchen staff already does a fantastic job, and this will add to what they are already doing.
We sampled garden produce on Taste Washington Day, Sept. 25, 2013. Throughout the day, 7th grade science students enjoyed a buffet of fresh garden produce, as well as local treats they brought from home. The students were very brave about trying kale, chard, parsley, four lettuce varieties, carrots, and chives they had picked themselves the day before. There were many comments about how much better food tastes when it’s fresh, and we had very few leftovers!
Cary Peterson and Bruce Kinney (Chartwells) organized our “Taste of Whidbey” event, held on November 14th in the LMS Cafeteria. Students sampled kale salad, fresh carrots, potatoes and beets. Several 7th Grade students helped, along with community partners Deep Harvest Farms and Whidbey Island Nourishes.
Students in second quarter enrichment are working on an education and awareness campaign that will help improve the food “aptitude and attitude” of our LMS students. LMS students are excited about being involved in growing and providing LMS-grown “good” food to our school lunch program.
posted by Susan Milan, 7th Grade Science Teacher, Langley Middle School, 11-23-13