Upper Valley Farm to School 2018 Mini-Grants!

I am so excited to announce the 2018 mini-grant program at Upper Valley Farm to School! We have funding focused on both Vermont and New Hampshire schools. Start dreaming up your farm-to-school projects – we want to support you!

 

Application deadline – Wednesday March 28, 2018HSS - Green team at market 1

Mini-grants are designed to help your school, afterschool program, or school-related wellness program launch projects related to farms, our agricultural heritage, farm products, food production, or local food consumption at the school itself.

A broad range of projects have received funding in recent years including field trips to local farms, food from a local farm, materials for gardens and garden activities, and stipends for farmers, teachers, or FTS coordinators. Funds could also be used in the cafeteria, to pay for training, supplies, or equipment.

 NEW FOR 2018: The maximum mini-grant award is now $500. Both New Hampshire and Vermont schools are eligible to apply for funds. Recipients in both states are required to present their project at Trek to Taste on June 2, 2018 (in addition to other grant requirements, below). We encourage schools to include costs related to project presentations and attending Trek to Taste in their grant budget.

For additional information on eligibility, the application process, and possible projects, please go to our on-line application form, download a form or, contact me.

The Upper Valley Farm to School mini-grant program is made possible thanks to the Couch Family Foundation, the National Park Service, and the Wellborn Ecology Fund.

Tunbridge - Garden Day TeamworkBeth Roy
Farm to School Coordinator
Upper Valley Farm to School Network
Beth@VitalCommunities.org
802.291.9100 x105

Farm to School Professional Development Course Offered in Partnership with Vermont FEED

Pic for webJoin Upper Valley Farm to School and Vermont FEED for a Level I Professional Learning Course: Cultivating Farm to School. This learning opportunity is designed for school educators, staff, administrators, and community members to explore and expand their personal and professional knowledge and experience related to Farm to School education while building and strengthening school community connections. Participants will be encouraged to build and develop shared learning experiences for their students while building and developing the vital relationships necessary to make Farm to School education a real and lasting part of their community, classroom and cafeteria.

Interactive class sessions will include a balance of hands-on cooking, individual work time, networking, guest presentations, dialogue, small group activities and practical experiences that will serve to deepen participant understanding of the various elements and promising practices of farm-to-school programs.

The class will take place at Mascoma Regional High School 4:00-7:00pm

3/21/17
4/4/17
4/25/17
5/9/17
5/23/17
6/6/17

We are very fortunate to be able to provide free tuition to all New Hampshire participants. New Hampshire participants will also be eligible to apply for a mini-grant to support a farm to school project in their school. Funding for this opportunity is from the Wellborn Ecology Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.

To learn more about the course and to register please visit http://bit.ly/2kQvAyY or contact Beth Roy, Farm to School Coordinator at 802.291.9100 or Beth@VitalCommunities.org

Upper Valley Farm to School 2017 Mini-Grants!

I am so excited to announce the 2017 mini-grant program at Upper Valley Farm to School! We have funding focused on both Vermont and New Hampshire schools. Start dreaming up your farm-to-school projects – we want to support you!

 

Application deadline – Friday, March 24, 2017HSS - Green team at market 1

Mini-grants are designed to help your school, afterschool program, or school-related wellness program launch projects related to farms, our agricultural heritage, farm products, food production, or local food consumption at the school itself.

A broad range of projects has received funding in recent years including field trips to local farms, food from a local farm, materials for gardens and garden activities, and stipends for farmers, teachers, or FTS coordinators. Funds could also be used in the cafeteria, to pay for training, supplies, or equipment.

For additional information on eligibility, the application process, and possible projects, please go to our on-line application form, download a form or, contact me.

The Upper Valley Farm to School mini-grant program is made possible thanks to the Couch Family Foundation, the National Park Service, and the Wellborn Ecology Fund.

Tunbridge - Garden Day TeamworkBeth Roy
Farm to School Coordinator
Upper Valley Farm to School Network
Beth@VitalCommunities.org
802.291.9100 x105

Planning for the Future in Newbury

Planning for the Future in Newbury

We ended the school year with various classes “adopting” raised “laboratory” beds, perennial, and permaculture gardens around the school.  Within these we have a team of students that planted a garden committed to serving our salad bar and lunch programs, another few classes creating food for storage for cooking/baking projects,  a class that planted a butterfly garden- with an off-site milkweed patch to promote monarch habitat, and yet another team of classes planted a “stone soup” garden.  We received funding for a staff member to tend the gardens over the summer months- always a hiccup in the process of gardening at school.  Over time, our school has become increasingly committed to using farm to school curricula to support student learning and engagement.  We also purchased a beautiful new greenhouse kit and will put together a group of staff and community members to erect it so it can begin to be used once school is back in session.

Finally, we’re really excited that we’re sending a team consisting of administrator, parent, chef, and teachers to the three-day Farm to School Institute at Shelburne Farms!  After completing two farm to school grants, our team is poised to create a plan that will allow our program to continue to grow and become sustainable.  We feel very fortunate!

  • Kim Goody, Farm to School Coordinator

Growing Gardens in Canaan

Growing Gardens in Canaan

In the winter of 2015-2016 it was brought to my attention that Canaan Elementary School would support the creation of a food garden. I was allowed to work with second and fourth graders to create this garden so that they could learn (first hand) how to plan a garden, use organic methods, and enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of their labor. Another goal was to educate them on making healthy food choices.

The students began planting seeds indoors in early March under grow lights. They tended the seedlings throughout the spring, planned how to build the raised beds, set cardboard down on the walkways, mulched the walkways, built the raised beds, filled them with compost and soil, transplanted seedlings, and sowed seeds directly. They learned that straw mulch retains soil moisture and mulched the beds as well. They have been weeding, watering, observing, and even harvesting some salad greens. Students made sketches about how to direct rain water from our outdoor classroom roof (which is next to the garden) into a water collection barrel. The rain collection system is currently under construction.

Our school will host a summer recreation program and the staff has agreed to have the students tend the garden throughout the summer. Each day the cafeteria will prepare two meals and include what the children harvest.

Students have been very enthusiastic about this project and have enjoyed accomplishing a lot of work in a short time.

  • Kevin Gianini, STEM Teacher

Abundant Variety at Unity!

Abundant Variety at Unity! 
Unity-starts-e1441827638151
Unity Elementary School’s greenhouses are looking better than ever! Our school’s Builders Club members, a community service club sponsored by Claremont Kiwanis, have been growing multiple varieties of vegetables, perennials, and annuals. Some of our tomatoes, peppers, and green beans have grown 20 inches tall! – Jennifer Thompson, Teacher, Unity Elementary School, Unity, NH

Garden Expansion at the Newton School!

Garden Expansion at the Newton School!838b1936-ad28-483c-9f2a-a01daca4d33c
We are deep into planting our three new field plots and our regular raised beds, 7th graders will build two new raised beds, and grade 3 has helped to overhaul our perennial pollinator garden. Last week grades 1 and 2 planted a really sweet pallet-wall garden! Thanks to Michelle at Cedar Circle Farm for the great idea and for donating the plants! – Cat Buxton, Garden Coordinator, Newton School, Strafford, VT

Perennial Maintenance at Thetford!

Perennial Maintenance at Thetford!
Thetford june

Students from all grades have planted in most of our 13 raised beds, our pumpkin patch, and have tended our fruit trees and berry bushes. Students from grades K-5 will care for the new plantings throughout the next week. Grade 4 has become the school’s new tree steward team; today we calculated how much fertilizer we need per tree and spread our own school-grown compost to ensure excellent soil health! – Cat Buxton, Garden Coordinator, Thetford Elementary School, Thetford, VT

Spring Salad Made From Anything

I made this colorful crunchy salad on the fly on Memorial Day when the grocery stores were closed for the holiday and my parents, siblings, and out-of-town cousin were on their way over for dinner. I wanted a salad but only had asparagus, broccolini, scallions, and radishes from Cedar Circle Farm plus a few carrots in the fridge and herbs in the garden. And thus this salad put itself together with a little thoughtful slicing and a lemon dressing.

Thoughtful slicing? By that I mean thinking about the best way to slice each vegetable to make the salad both beautiful AND to make each bite make sense in your mouth.

For example, radishes are pungent and spicy, so I sliced some of them into paper-thin rounds and the rest into thin wedges – both shapes ensure a huge chunk of radish won’t ruin a bite. 

Similarly, raw carrots are great, but I don’t love them shredded and neither do I want huge carrot sticks. So I cut them in thinIMG_1127 irregular slices on the diagonal that are easy to pick up with a fork without too much crunching and drama. I prefer my broccoli cooked, so I did that before slicing it into long strips.

You get the idea. Give each vegetable a moment of thought to optimize its good qualities and make it pretty and easy to eat. Mix up colors and flavors, shapes and textures.

This salad can be made with any spring vegetable you like eating. Keep a vegetable raw if it tastes good raw (like scallions, kholrabi, peas, and radishes). Briefly steam, saute, or roast it if it’s better cooked (like broccoli, fiddleheads, or bok choy) and then cool before adding. Don’t forget the fresh herbs! I mixed dill, cilantro, basil, and marjoram, all from my backyard. In my opinion, any combination of fresh herbs is good in a salad.

(I used a lemon dressing, but you can use any dressing you have and like. Optional additions are grated, crumbled, or shaved cheese of your choosing, a cooked grain or pasta, beans, or pieces of chicken.)

–Bethany Fleishman,Vital Communities’ Transportation Program Assistant and former pastry chef, is contributing recipes this spring for our Valley Food & Farm program.

Here’s my recipe; adapt as needed:

Spring Salad Made From Anything

Ingredients

one bunch asparagus – kept raw and shaved into ribbons with a peeler (or if you prefer it cooked, steam, cool, and slice)

4-6 radishes, some thinly sliced into rounds, the rest sliced into thin wedges (you can keep the root and a little of the green intact)

3-5 scallions, white and green parts, sliced thinly on the diagonal (extra pretty that way)

2-4 carrots, sliced into thin and irregular spears on the diagonal

2-3 stalks broccolini or one head of broccoli, briefly steamed, cooled, then sliced into long thin pieces

a handful of fresh herbs – basil, cilantro, parsley, marjoram, dill, chives, etc.

salt

Mix everything together in a salad bowl with a little salt (these vegetable chunks will soak up more salt than a plain salad of greens, so don’t be shy with the salt).IMG_1129

Make a lemon vinaigrette with:

half a lemon, juice & grated rind 

one clove garlic, sliced, mashed, or grated

salt & pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

Whisk this all together until smooth and creamy. Toss with the salad and serve immediately.

*Also on the family Memorial day supper menu:
– delicious juicy hamburgers with beef from Back Beyond Farm in Chelsea, Vermont, covered in fried onions and spicy sauerkraut.
– A grain salad my mom made
– Vermont ice cream with chocolate sauce.

**Thank you to my brother Ben for the photos.

Mastering Perfect Spinach

When my friend Justin opened a restaurant in Maine, I fixated on his strategy to train kitchen staff: cooks would learn the best one or two ways to prepare each vegetable, so they’d be optimally equipped to deal on the fly with unpredictable supplies of local vegetables and a daily changing menu.

Let’s try this method together – and make perfect creamed spinach like skilled professionals.

Spinach can deserve its reputation, but it’s delicious when done right. Plus, it’s a nutritional powerhouse.

Why creamed spinach, specifically? Because it’s emerald green and perfect with a steak. And because like the names of our great-grandparents, food like this is coming into style again.

Thank you to the New York Times Cooking section for providing me the hankering and the recipe for creamed spinach. And to Justin for helping me make that original recipe more awesome and for taste testing.

–Bethany Fleishman,Vital Communities’ Transportation Program Assistant and former pastry chef, is contributing recipes this spring for our Valley Food & Farm program.

Creamed Spinach
Recipe adapted from The New York Times Cooking section

Ingredients

About 2 pounds spinach (from a local farm or garden – that’s the whole point!)Raw Spinach
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour (gluten free flour is fine as long as it has some thickening power)
1 cup milk (ideally whole, but use what you have)
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Bay leaf (OPTIONAL)
1 clove of garlic (OPTIONAL)
A healthy sprinkle of grated Parmesan or other sharp cheese (OPTIONAL)

Directions

1. Pick over the spinach to remove any debris, tough stems, and blemished leaves.

2. Rinse the spinach and shake dry.

3. Stuff the spinach into a saucepan with a quarter cup or so of water and cook on medium heat, stirring, until the spinach has wilted and turned bright green. You’re doing a combination sauté and steam here. (I like this method because it’s quick, and I have a completely unfounded suspicion that it preserves the most nutrients.)

4. Run the spinach under cold running water until chilled.

5. Grab the spinach by the handful and squeeze out the liquid. This is important to prevent watery creamed spinach.

6. Thoroughly blend the spinach in a food processor or blender. Set aside.Roux

7. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour, stirring with a whisk.

8. Add the milk, stirring rapidly with the whisk. For extra flavor, add a whole clove of garlic (or minced if you like a lot of garlic flavor) and a Bay leaf.

9. Add nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes until it thickens.

2Bowls10. If you used them, fish out the Bay leaf and garlic clove (unless you minced it), and add the cheese (if using).

11. Add the spinach. Stir to blend. Heat
and serve with more ground black pepper.

You’re building your skills: Did you know that the sauce you just made for the spinach is called Béchamel sauce, and is one of the five “mother sauces” in French cuisine? You can use this for the base for cheese sauce and so much more.

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