As school winds down another year, it’s time for the Sierra Harvest’s 2017-18 Farm to School awards!
Harvest of the Month
The backbone of Farm to School, this program offers tastings of local, seasonal, organic produce in 300 K-8 classrooms and 4 high school cafeterias each month. And this year, Harvest of the Month extended its reach further into the community by partnering with groups such as Dignity Health Cafeteria, Cascades of Grass Valley Senior Living Community and Gold Country Services! In this 9th year of tastings, thousands of students and community members of all ages munched their way through over 12,000 pounds of produce including: Asian pears, peppers, broccoli, persimmons, mandarins, cabbage, carrots, watermelon radishes, microgreens, and snap peas.
Winner for the farmer: New farmers Cody and Grayson Curtis of Bonanza Gardens had thousands of Asian Pears and were unsure of how they would be selling them. Farm to school saved the day, purchasing nearly 9,000 pieces of ripe, fresh fruit from right here in Nevada County!
Pearson Family Farm had a bumper crop of bright orange persimmons that also found a home in the bellies of local students.
Next to Harvest of the Month, Tasting Week is right up there as a community favorite. 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 sweet potato gnocchi, squacamole mash (like guacamole using winter squash), twice-baked curried squash, and quinoa cucumber salad.
Chef of the year: Chef Jessica Shelton
Chef Jess was all ready to teach children at Williams Ranch how to make gnocchi and winter pesto…and then the fires broke out. First, the school itself was closed because of the Lobo fire, and then Chef Jess had to evacuate her home in Santa Rosa! Needless to say, the planned tasting didn’t happen on time. But that didn’t stop this awesome chef from rescheduling and sharing her delicious recipe and tasty lessons with the students later in the year.
Local farms are at the heart of our programming, and the time they take to go above and beyond the hard work of growing food to teach kids is amazing! This year we partnered with 9 stellar local growers who taught in classrooms, hosted field trips and provided fresh produce for garden carts at 21 schools.
Winner for this year’s Farm Partner of the year
All of them! Many of the farms that make Farm to School what it is have been a part of this programming for years. So let’s hear it for: Harmony Valley Farm, Starbright Acres Family Farm, Bakbraken Acres, Food Love Farm, Mountain Bounty Farm, Indian Springs Organic Farm, Woolman Farm, Sweet Roots Farm and the Porterhouse Ranch! Without your support, Farm to School would not be possible!
Ingredient of the Year: Microgreens
Micro-what? These tasty little sunflower sprouts and pea shoots were the go-to ingredient in Nevada Union high school’s Junior Iron Chef competition put on by teacher Kellis Morris and her culinary students. Impressing a panel of local notable judges and their peers during lunch, the students created real winning entrées of a Veggie Turkey Wrap and Pineapple Pizza with Microgreens.
Honorable mention lunch treat:
Nevada Union Food Services Director Theresa Ruiz made her largest purchase of organic produce ever this year! 700 pounds of organic apples from Cuyama Orchards! A big thanks goes out to Briar Patch Coop produce department for helping make this possible.
As always, it’s difficult to narrow awards down to just one winner. But since Farm to School serves 92% of the students in Western Nevada County, doesn’t that make us all winners?