The 2016-17 Farm to School Awards!

Deer Creek students tasting cauliflower as part of the Harvest of the Month tasting – Yolanda Williges, Health Education teacher.

As we all know, at the end of school there are awards ceremonies honoring our students and their achievements throughout the school year.  In honor of awards season (and all the awesome programming that happened this past year), Sierra Harvest presents the 2016-17 Farm to School awards!

Harvest of the Month

One of the most popular parts of farm to school, this program offers tastings of local, seasonal, organic produce in 300 K-8 classrooms and 3 high school cafeterias each month.   In this 5th year of school tastings, students munched their way through over 8,000 pounds of produce including: plums, lunchbox peppers, purple, orange, and white cauliflower, romanesco, pomegranates, collard greens, blood and Cara-Cara oranges, kiwis, kumquats, snap peas and salad turnips.

Winner for surprise favorite: Kumquats! 

Tasting kumquats as part of the Harvest of the Month program at Sierra Montessori School.

Before trying them, only about 10% of students said they liked the kumquat- and most had never even seen one!  After tasting, over 70% of students wanted more!  For this reason (and for all the pictures we received of sour faces), the kumquat is the Harvest of the Month dark horse winner.

Winner for most ridiculous produce pick up:  Kiwis

Liaisons picked up and distributed 1600 pounds of kiwis in the middle of an atmospheric river!  So many kiwis, so much rain.

Honorable mention: Farmer Javier from JSM Organics

Farmer Javier not only provided high quality produce, he also had it cut and packaged for 7,000 students (that’s a big job!).   And, as if he weren’t busy enough- he even came for a visit to Nevada Union High School to talk about what it’s like to be an organic farmer.

Mason Partak, guest chef at Cottage Hill school teaching about spiralizing veggies!

Tasting Week 

Next to Harvest of the Month, Tasting Week is right up there as some of the most popular events held.  And for good reason!  Kids get to prepare food and eat it!  This past year, 22 chefs made delicious, hands on dishes including favorites like wild greens pesto, rainbow veggie slaw, potato latkes and fresh spring rolls.

Chef of the year: Mason Partak

At the age of 13, Mason is already a force to be reckoned with!  The winner of “Chopped Junior,” this chef brought his skills and enthusiasm to Cottage Hill Elementary, sharing his “Any Way You Want It, That’s the Way You Eat It Salad.”

Farm Partners

This is a really hard category to choose a favorite!  We are so fortunate to work with 16 amazing local farmers who have taken the time to come into classrooms, host field trips and provide produce for garden carts at 20 schools.  Really, they are all winners.

Students at Cottage Hill having fun spiralizing zucchini and nibbling on it as part of their salad taught by Mason Partak.

Winner for this year’s Farmer Partner of the year: Starbright Acres Family Farm

Starbright is a star of farm to school (pardon the pun) and has been since our program began.  Aleta and Ken Barrett provide produce to 3 schools

and have hosted countless field trips and in school farmer visits where students taste fresh food and even get to snuggle baby goats! Additionally, Aleta is a farm to school liaison for Lyman Gilmore Middle School and she leads all the Harvest of the Month tastings for them.

Plant Sales

Just a few weeks ago, 22 schools had plant sale fundraisers to support farm to school for their school community.  This year, schools received 23 varieties of flowers, herbs, fruits and veggies to sell- and more of everything! Schools received 100% more plants this year than ever before.

Plant sales at Seven Hills School, April 2017.

Putting together 44 mixed flats of 23 varieties (that all mature at different times) is a logistical feat that takes quite a bit of patience and expertise. 

Plant Sale Logistics Master: Maggie McProud

Since taking over leadership at Sierra Harvest’s Food Love Farm, Maggie has brought over 10 years farming experience to the table- and local schools and families are benefitting!  In addition to growing high quality starts for sales, Maggie has provided produce, field trips and in school farmer visits for 5 schools as part of the farm to school program.