Thursday, November 7, 2013

Garlic Day at the Garden Cafe

Yesterday at Haldane's after-school enrichment program, The Garden Cafe, we planted garlic for the school cafeteria. Jade Silverstein, a high school senior and Hudson Valley Farm to School's summer intern at Glynwood, helped us make the preparations. While she worked with two kids shoveling fresh compost to amend the bed, two others prepped the soil by pulling out weeds and raking up debris. Three other kids carefully broke apart the garlic bulbs, separating them into cloves. Glynwood generously donated the garlic for our class to plant in the school garden.

Everyone got a turn shoveling the compost into the bed and turning the soil. Then, one by one they placed the garlic seed in the soil, six inches apart in six rows. A total of 80 cloves! 

Put to bed for the winter, now its just a matter of waiting for spring. Garlic scape pesto on the school cafeteria menu in June perhaps? And lots of fresh garlic to add to Haldane food service manager, Lauren Collica's tomato sauce in the fall!

We ended yesterday's class as we always do, with a snack from the garden. Yesterday we made Swiss Chard Roll-ups. You take a leaf of swiss chard and spread hummus and grated carrot on top. Roll it up and crunch! A delicious and nutritious snack.

Thank you Glynwood and Jade Silverstein for a great day at the Garden Cafe!

BTW, check out food service manager Lauren Collica's awesome Haldane Cafeteria Facebook page. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Haldane 4th Graders Learn Hands-on in the Garden and the Kitchen

October was Farm to School Month and Garden Month at Haldane Elementary School. In keeping with their unit on Native Americans, Haldane fourth graders went into the garden to study the Three Sisters bed. The garden parent in each class read the Iroquois legend of the Three Sisters and discussed why Native Americans planted corn, squash and beans together. Afterwards, the classes broke into smaller groups, and half harvested and shucked the dried corn and pounded it into cornmeal using an old-fashioned, stone mortar and pestle. 

While the one group did that, the other group looked at the useful plants bed and learned how to identify broom corn, rice, edamame, pineapple, and papyrus. They also found butternut squash and pumpkin growing out of the compost and dinosaur gourds growing high in the tree branches. These gourds were used by Native Americans to carry water. The last thing they looked for in the grassy area around the garden was the common plantain weed. Reportedly brought to the Americas by Puritan colonizers, Native Americans called this plant by the common name "white man's footprint" as it spread where ever the settlers traveled. It was commonly used medicinally to soothe bee stings and minor skin irritations.

To complement these garden activities, Mrs. Windels and Mrs. Quick's classes had their Chef in the Classroom activity featuring corn and made Native American Corn Succotash. This Three Sisters dish included corn, zucchini and fresh cranberry beans – all procured from Madura Farms in Goshen, NY. 

Chef Margot set up a mobile kitchen in their classrooms and showed the kids how to shuck the cranberry beans and corn, cut off the kernels from the cobs, cut up the zucchini, tomatoes and scallions, and sautée all the ingredients with fresh herbs from the school garden. This dish was served the following week on National Food Day as a school-wide taste test.

Please try the recipe at home:
Traditional Corn Succotash*
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 plum tomatoes, seeded, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 ten-ounce package frozen lima beans, rinsed under warm running water and drained 2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (3-4 ears)
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 scallions, finely chopped, for garnish

Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.Add garlic; stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.Add corn, and lima beans. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until corn and lima beans are tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in zucchini, tomatoes and fresh herbs, and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with scallions. Serves 6. 

*Interesting to note:
“Succotash” comes from the Narragansett Indian word “msíckquatash,” meaning boiled corn kernels. The native Americans in the eastern woodlands were the first to prepare this dish and taught it to the early settlers.Today, succotash is a traditional dish in many New England Thanksgiving celebrations. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Farm to School Has Arrived in Beacon, NY

JV Forrestal Elementary School in Beacon, NY is the first elementary school in Dutchess County to participate in a full-year farm to school program. This program is run by The Beacon Farm to School Collaborative (BFSC) a partnership of three local non-profit organizations: Common Ground Farm, Hudson Valley Seed and Hudson Valley Farm to School. The program is designed to get kids excited about eating their veggies through hands-on learning in the garden, on the farm, and cooking in the classroom. Kids learn where their food comes from and are given the tools to make healthier choices so they can become nutrition-conscious, food literate adults. The program at Forrestal Elementary School includes weekly visits to the school garden, a monthly chef-in-the-classroom program, monthly farmer-in-the-classroom visits, school field trips to CommonGround Farm, and monthly school-wide taste tests in the cafeteria. 
Read more in this week's Poughkeepsie Journal: