Yes, we believe it’s time to start carrots in our Vermont school garden. We tried a new method of “pre-thinning” this year. Students glued teensie carrot seeds to a line of Elmer’s glue on strips of paper. The glue will dissolve in the rain and the seeds will be set to grow an appropriate length apart! (We hope.) This is a first time experiment and I’m hoping it works. Carrots should be ready to pull up when the summer camp program is in session in late July.
This turned out to be a carrot themed After School party for 11 students. First they had a snack of local baby carrots. Then they put together a recipe for healthy carrot muffins. Finally they brought their carrot seed strips out to the garden to plant. It was a super afternoon!
Recipe: Healthy Carrot Muffins
Thank you, Jason Goodell, Mike and Bianca Zaransky for helping us get our garden ready to plant! Mike came by on a Sunday and cleared off a lot of old plants. Then he spread a huge load of manure donated by farmer and parent, Jason. This awesome tractor made out garden look like a newly frosted chocolate cake! It was a warm sunny day and the raspberries got their first weeding.
After School students made a wish list of garden crops for this year. Then they planted a few flats of marigolds and herbs. Some of those flats will get an extra boost of heat, water and light at Harlow’s greenhouses before they go into our garden. Many thanks to Evan and Paul Harlow.
A group of 15 kids will be working in the garden after school on Thursdays, planting early greens, peas and carrots.
On MAY 10th, the whole school will come out to the garden grade by grade to plant. We’re hoping the warm weather continues and that the kids get to see some garden growth before school ends on June 8th!
In the summer we have six weeks of summer camp when campers will be able to participate in the July/August cultivation of the garden.
Meet our new Westminster Schools chef, Harley Sterling. He is dedicated to maximizing our use of local farm raised products. Harley is truly a culinary gift to our schools and to the local Head Start program; AND he welcomes student participation! Here he is explaining to a group of fourth graders how root vegetables become sweeter after they’ve been exposed to frost. (Hint: We also have a science lesson going on here.) These same students washed and peeled enough carrots, rutabagas and parsnips for the top layer of the featured Shepherd’s Pie lunch. Ingredients for the lunch menu (including the beef) are locally sourced whenever possible.
Today we celebrated that effort by honoring the Harlow family guys at lunch. Farmer Evan Harlow a former student here, spoke to the lunchroom students about the importance of keeping food sources local as a way for our community to stay strong and vital. Evan and his father, Paul work closely with Harley to help create tasty innovative meals that kids will eat. Teo Harlow is a Kindergartener at our school.
Our featured veggies this month were carrots. Accompanying the shepherd’s pie was a yummy carrot ginger soup. The soup was sweetened with maple syrup from Perry Family Mapleworks of Westminster! (We are leaving processed sugar behind as of this month in favor of our local Perry family syrup.) Every student was given a soup sample to try. Fourth grade girls took notes on student responses. In general they found out that most students gave the soup a ‘thumbs up’ or would try it again. It was wonderful to watch how much the girls’ confidence grew with each new interview.
On the last day of the winter After School Program, this group put together veggie pies after learning a bit about Beatrix Potter and her beloved Peter. The day was warm enough to spend a little of our time together checking out the garden. While we went outside, one of our veteran 5th grade cooks stayed back and made kale smoothies for everyone. Some children were very interested in gleaning last year’s kale for more smoothies. (I think we have a few kale converts here.)
Chocolate beet cake with hot pink beet frosting: one way to get kids to try beets! This was the recipe for success suggested by our veggie of the month taste test queen, parent (and so much more for our school), Stacie Illingworth. The result was amazing. I think we have a whole school of converts to the joy of beets!
Above: two amazing volunteer parents: Amy Rice Sciacca and Stacie Illingworth
As an elementary classroom teacher I was always looking for opportunities to encourage personal connections with literacy. My own childhood connection with fairy tales brings back warm memories. And what fairy tale doesn’t include some kind of food experience? I started rereading the old favorites and here are some of the cooking related projects I came up with: Jack and the Beanstalk: Black Bean Dip, Goldilocks and the Three Bears: Porridge Your Way, Baba Yaga: Chicken Soup, The Little Red Hen: Bread Making, The Three Billy Goats Gruff: Kale Chips and Kale Smoothies (We took liberties with the grass related eating theme.) Irish fairy tales: Irish Soda Bread.
Each personal pizza had its own unique personality when we created pizza from scratch last December with the After School kids. One thing the pizzas had in common was the sauce. It can easily be made using last summer’s frozen tomatoes. They were washed and cut in half after harvesting, then put into ziplock bags for winter cooking projects.
Some students just can’t get enough frozen kale and raspberries. Here are a few getting ready to make smoothies. Just add a little juice and vanilla yogurt to these two garden harvests and blend until smooooooooth.
These After School club students also learned how to grind wheat berries into flour, both by hand and by using an antique electric mill. They also cooked the last of our own sweet potatoes.
The entire school enjoyed a taste of butternut squash bread with the help of these happy chefs last December.The recipe was challenging but they put together enough ingredients for each student to get to know how yummy butternut squash can be. We can grow it in our own school garden………and we have!
Autumn Spiced Butternut Squash Bread (Click on recipe)
popcorn off ears
It’s a bit of a job removing dry popcorn kernels from their ears. The After School kids had fun working on this project. We compared popcorn from this year’s harvest to the popcorn that had a year to dry out a bit. Here are the results:
kernels this year and last
popcorn this year and last (Better popping from last year’s popcorn)
Ears of popcorn!