State Agriculture Officials Celebrate September 19 - 23 as Massachusetts Harvest for Students Week
More schools and colleges serving locally grown foods, farm sales on the rise as a result
During Massachusetts Harvest for Students Week, schools and colleges highlight the local harvest by hosting special events and serving meals prepared with fresh, local foods produced by Massachusetts farms.
In the 2010 school year, 66 percent of students in public schools around the state were enrolled in a district that served local foods - up from 55 percent in the previous school year. Commonwealth farms that sell to institutions such as schools and colleges grossed over $1.3 million in 2010, according to a report released by the Massachusetts Farm to School Project. The 42 farms that reported 2010 income data, which was a 74 percent increase over 2008 when 29 participating farms reported they grossed $760,000.
"Initiatives like the Massachusetts Harvest for Students Week are effective at encouraging schools and colleges to serve healthier foods," said DAR Commissioner Scott J. Soares. "Students eat better and learn about where their food comes from. The initiative is also a boon to the state's agricultural economy - a recent survey showed that 110 Massachusetts farms benefit from direct sales to schools and colleges."
The week's events include a visit by White House Chef Roland Mesnier to the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus, Cambridge students will volunteer at a farm in Lincoln and school menus across the state will feature local apples, collards, squash and other produce.
The program is coordinated by the Massachusetts Farm to School Project in collaboration with DAR, the School Nutrition Association of Massachusetts, and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The project, a statewide grassroots effort founded in 2004, provides technical assistance to and fosters purchasing relationships between farm and learning institutions.
"Massachusetts Harvest for Students Week is a great time for schools to try out new foods and recipes when local foods are most available. In 2003, fewer than ten public school districts in Massachusetts reported they preferentially purchased locally grown foods," said Kelly Erwin, director of the Massachusetts Farm to School Project. "By the end of last school year, 217 public school districts told us they'd served locally grown foods in their cafeterias."
Joseph Czajkowski, who grows 340 acres of fruits and vegetables on his farm in Hadley, has been selling produce to Massachusetts schools and colleges for five years.
"Schools and colleges are steady customers and it makes me feel good to know the kids are eating fresh produce from my farm," Czajkowski said.
Recently, the Massachusetts House and Senate both passed nearly identical resolutions, sponsored by Sen. Stanley Rosenberg and Rep. Stephen Kulik respectively, designating September 19 - 23, 2011 as Massachusetts Harvest for Students Week.
"What a great win-win for our community. Students who are served fresh, locally grown food tend to eat significantly more fruits and vegetables," said Rep. Stephen Kulik. "We can address the problem of increasing childhood obesity in a positive way, while simultaneously improving the local economy and opportunities for Massachusetts farms."
Here's how some schools and colleges will celebrate.
Acton/Acton-Boxborough Public Schools received a grant from Lahey Clinic to serve fresh fruits and veggies in each school at least one day of the week. They plan to serve jicama and summer squash during Harvest Week. In addition, the elementary school students will husk corn on the cob and make dolls form the husks.
Children at the Acushnet Public Schools will be sampling local fruits and vegetables, such as husk cherries, summer squash, broccoli, and nectarines. In addition, parents who attend September Open Houses will receive information about Harvest for Students Week.
Andover Public Schools will celebrate Harvest Week in a variety of ways, including placing farm to school materials in all 11 cafeterias, working with fruits and vegetables in art classes, serving a macaroni and cheese recipe in which local butternut squash replaces some of the cheese, and eating tomatoes and basil from the high school garden. Parents who attend the four PTO meetings that week will be served local cucumber and watermelon salad.
Assumption College in Worcester will be serving seasonal local foods every day during Harvest Week.
Auburn Schools will serve a different local fruit or vegetable--such as baked potatoes, broccoli, tomatoes, spinach, red peppers, seasonal stir fry, or a fresh fall fruit--each day of Harvest Week.
Blanchard Memorial in Boxborough will serve a different local fruit or vegetable--such as corn on the cob, honey carrots, pasta salad, broccoli salad, and garden salad--each day of Harvest Week.
Boston Public Schools will serve a locally grown item in all 44 full kitchen cafeteria schools Monday through Thursday of Harvest Week. Apples, collards, coleslaw, broccoli, green beans will be on the menu.
Boston University will feature various local foods in their cafeterias during Harvest Week. They will be holding a local apple tasting at their weekly farmers market on Thursday, September 22, and will host "Make a Difference Monday" on September 26.
Cambridge Public Schools will feature two local foods on the menu at the elementary schools each day of the week and local food throughout the new high school cafeteria and salad bar. The Morse Elementary School will have a grand opening of their salad bar on September 23. Cambridge will also be doing activities with the "farmer trading cards" and the CitySprouts garden program in two schools.
Deerfield Elementary School will feature locally grown produce from The Bars Farm in Deerfield and local apples from Pine Hill Orchards every day during Harvest Week. Some of the recipes can be found in the "Fresh from the Farm Cookbook," including Vegetable Tortellini Soup (renamed Farmer Tortellini Soup in honor of Harvest Week) and Smashed Red Potatoes.
theMOVE will be bringing an AP Environmental Science class from Cambridge Rindge and Latin School to Blue Heron Organic Farm in Lincoln to do volunteer work on the farm and to learn about local food systems.
Canton Public Schools will serve a different local item on the menu each day of the week in 3 elementary schools representing 1500 students (50 percent of the district). Produce will include apples, carrots, pears, cucumbers, and tomatoes and will primarily come from Lanni Orchards.
Greenfield Community College will feature a special menu during Harvest Week, highlighting a local farm each day, including Clarkdale Fruit Farm (Deerfield), Four Star Farm (Northfield), Hager's Farm Stand (Shelburne), Sidehill Yogurt (Ashfield), Red Fire Farms (Montague) and Pierce Bros Coffee (Greenfield). Diners will enjoy applesauce, roasted veggies, bread, salads and more, all using local products. GCC will also hold outdoor demonstrations of a cider press and portable solar and baker's ovens (weather permitting).
Groton-Dunstable School District in Groton will serve local food from Lanni Orchards every day, using recipes from the Mass Farm to School Cookbook, such as garlicky green beans, red bliss mashed potatoes, homemade gazpacho, as well as apples, watermelon wedges, and more.
Harvard Public Schools will serve local produce from Kimball Fruit Farm, Westwood Orchards and Springdell Farm during Harvest Week as part of their ongoing commitment to local food.
On Tuesday, September 20, 5th grade students from Maria Hastings Elementary School in Lexington will visit the Lexington Farmers' Market on a field trip for their Kids Cooking Green class. Author Debra Samuels will give a hands-on demonstration at 3pm at the Lexington Farmers Market on how to make lunch, Japanese Bento Style, using ingredients from local farmers.
Longmeadow Public Schools will sample fresh local foods for the students.
Manchester Essex students who help maintain the school garden will shuck corn for lunch from Marinis Farm. Produce from the school garden will be served the salad bars in all three schools. Farmer Patrick Kriksceonaitis from Brooksby Farm will be at Essex Elementary School, giving out apples, pears and peaches. Students will receive a farmer "trading cards" featuring Pat on their cafeteria tray.
Marblehead Community Public Charter School will serve students a variety of local foods and provide samples of unique farm produce, such as yellow watermelons.
Marshfield Public Schools gave materials about Harvest Week to their kindergarteners as part of their education about local foods. A local restaurant that uses local beef and local/healthy ingredients will come in to cook on Wednesday, September 21.
Milbury Public Schools will feature local produce, such as roasted cauliflower and broccoli, roasted butternut squash, green beans, peaches, and apples from Millbury's own orchard.
During Harvest Week, teachers and the school's Garden Committee at Jackson Street School in Northampton will hold a garden and healthy foods display featuring work by students in all grades, take classes outside for nature explorations in the school garden, promote "whole foods for a whole week" (teachers offer their classes healthy snacks from the school garden and local farms), and have a school-wide "Farmer Day" where staff and children dress up as farmers to celebrate the school garden and local farming. In addition, the Garden Committee will host a movie night in the school garden under the stars.
Smith College will be hosting a "Locally Grown Breakfast at Night," with goat cheese & caramelize onion frittatas, blueberry pancakes and muffins with local syrup, pork sausages, baked apples, and more. On another evening during Harvest Week, Yankee Pot Roast featuring local meat, root vegetables, and butternut squash will be served, with homemade blueberry pie with local ice cream for dessert.
With logistical support from Groundworks Somerville, students from Somerville Public Schools will help shuck 4,000 ears of corn from Lanni Orchards on Thursday, September 22, to be served at lunch.
Tufts College will feature local apples and a variety of produce, including kale, Swiss chard, spinach, and squash from New Entry Sustainable Farming Project. Tufts will also run a lunch-time fundraiser in which students shuck corn for that night's dinner and receive 50 cents an ear for charity. The proceeds will likely go to the Thom Thumb's Garden project on campus.
UMass/Amherst students will meet local farmers and taste products from Bashista Orchard, Clarkdale Farm, Inc., Cold Spring Orchard, Diemand Farm, Gary Kamen/Honey, Joe Czajkowski Farms, Mapleline Farm, North Hadley Sugar Shack. Nourse Farms, Inc., Pine Hill Orchard, Red Barn Honey, and Warm Colors Apiary at campus farmers markets on Monday through Thursday during Harvest Week. White House Chef Roland Mesnier will be on campus Tuesday, September 20 and 21 to prepare three desserts featuring local ingredients, including Peach Upside Down Cake with Raspberry Sauce, Honey Custard, and Apple Cider Brulee with Maple Syrup Meringue.
Wachusett Regional School District will feature corn, potatoes, broccoli, and other local produce daily during Harvest Week, along with fresh fruit from Philbin Orchards and a local garden salad. The physical education classes will participate in an activity promoting fresh, local food that will feature the Mass. Farm to School Project's farmer trading cards.
Waltham Public Schools have a "vegetable of the month" for September, October and November. The vegetables will be sourced from Waltham Fields Community Farm at highly subsidized rates). In September, summer squash will be featured in all the elementary schools; in October, leafy greens, and in November, winter squash. On September 24, Waltham Fields hosts Waltham Farm Day, an on-farm festival with activities for the whole family.
Elementary students from Weston Public Schools will visit a local farm. The cafeteria will serve cucumbers and cherry tomatoes from a local farm and makes zucchini raviolis. In addition, they will serve local watermelon and a garden salad made from local produce.
Williams College dining commons will be full of local produce from Peace Valley Farm and other local farms and dairy from High Lawn Farm. Williams is also making their own pizza dough with New England flour, which makes a delicious base for local veggie pies!
Wrentham Public Schools will feature local produce-including apples, squash, tomatoes-from Lanni Orchards in each of their schools every day in all schools (apples, squash, tomatoes etc.)
For ideas and information about celebrating Massachusetts Harvest for Students Week, including assistance in finding sources for local foods, and free recipes, posters, stickers, farmer "trading cards," and other fun items for celebrating Harvest Week, go to http://www.mass.gov/agr/markets/Farm_to_school/harvest-week.htm.
DAR's mission is to ensure the long-term viability of agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its four divisions - Agricultural Conservation & Technical Assistance, Agricultural Markets, Animal Health, and Crop and Pest Services - DAR strives to support, regulate and enhance the rich diversity of the Commonwealth's agricultural community to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and fulfill agriculture's role in energy conservation and production. For more information, visit DAR's website at www.mass.gov/agr, and/or follow at twitter.com/agcommishsoares