Sierra Harvest’s Farm to School program is currently active in 16 elementary schools in the county. This is Ready Springs’ second year in the program. Ready Springs is a small, K-8 school in Penn Valley, with one class per grade. Being a rural school, many people assume that most of the kids know about gardening, but in fact a large part of the school’s population lives in nearby apartment buildings, without access to gardens. Ready Springs Farm to School Liaison Rosie Mariani is grateful for Sierra Harvest’s Farm to School program: “Any time we can get the kids out there and knowing where their food comes from, it’s a good thing.”
Ready Springs has chosen to implement several aspects of the Farm to School program. There is a Garden Stand on site, selling local produce weekly in the Fall and plant starts for one day in the Spring on a donation basis. The proceeds from the sales of produce donated by the school’s farm partner, the Food Love Project, plus copious amounts of zucchini (and much-awaited figs!) contributed by school families help to fund the school garden and farm field trips.
3rd, 4th, and 6th graders visited the Food Love Project this past Fall, and got to harvest the end of the tomatoes. Food Love farmers Amanda Thibodeau and Katie Turner also visited Ready Springs, to plant seed pots and build a tipi for snap peas and beans with the after school program.
Ready Springs students were treated to a kale salad tasting this year as part of the program, where Sierra Harvest Food Corps Service Member transformed kale from a blob of green that “smelled like pumpkin” to something that many kids ended up liking once they got over their initial suspicions.
The most popular aspect of the program is the monthly Harvest of the Month tasting. The kids have become much more adventurous with tasting new things after being exposed to things like grapefruit and kiwi. Rosie was surprised how many kids tried and liked grapefruit: “I don’t like grapefruit or kiwi, and I’m embarrassed to say that my 8-year-old had never had either one until Harvest of the Month. Now we buy kiwis, because my child discovered that she really likes them, and learned that they have more vitamin C than an orange!”
For more information about Sierra Harvest’s Farm to School program, visit the Farm to School Program page on our website.