This April, we celebrated potatoes as the Harvest of the Month with a delicious taste test: smashed red bliss potatoes! We used local red bliss potatoes from Swaz Potato Farms. Click on the button below to try the recipe at home!
Our Salad Days planting is well underway for the 2019 season! This spring, students from Bowe, Streiber, Stefanik, Litwin, and Lambert-Lavoie elementary schools will plant lettuce in their school gardens. This lettuce will be harvested by the students in June, and then they will enjoy it in the cafeteria the next day. Our philosophy is, "if they grow it, they'll eat it!" so we love offering students this seed to fork experience.
Planting days are led by a team consisting of Farm to School Coordinator, Greta Shwachman, and the district's two FoodCorps service members, Kelly Zimmerhanzel and Anna Plewa. The team greets each class, and then divides them into two groups. One group heads straight to the garden to get their hands dirty, and the other plays a game. Halfway through, the groups switch, so everyone gets a turn to plant and have a "veggie dance party"!
The planting process is organized and efficient, which allows each class to come through the garden in only 15 minutes! (We wish it could be longer, but this short time frame seems to work well for school staff). Students are assigned a square in the garden (each class gets 16 sq ft) and then are tasked with (1) making a "tractor claw" and loosening up the soil, (2) drawing 4 lines in their square, (3) pinching and sprinkling lettuce seeds into their 4 lines, and (4) gently covering up their seeds and saying "goodnight"! We end by having the students do a "farmer clap" to get the dirt off their hands before going back in the building. (Shout out to former FoodCorps member, Jordyn Kessler, for coming up with that one <3).
We can't wait for June to see our lettuce all grown up and ready to harvest. A big thanks to Mother Nature for taking care of watering all our newly planted seeds!
**If you are a parent or community member interested in volunteering with us to bring Salad Days to more schools, please email Greta at email@example.com. Thank you!**
FoodCorps is a nation-wide team of Americorps leaders working to connect kids to healthy food in schools. Recently, we had the pleasure of hosting members of FoodCorps national staff for a special pilot program at Bowe Elementary School, where service member, Kelly Zimmerhanzel, tested out a "flavor" bar during lunch.
The project places a heavy emphasis on participatory research, and Kelly surveyed students both before and after the bar to gather input on flavors and format. In the end, the system that worked best was family style. Each table was given a variety of bottles and shakers to pass around and add flavor to their food. The flavors: pepper, garlic powder, ketchup, hot sauce, and adobo.
The consensus: it was a hit! Students were pumped up to have more autonomy in the lunchroom, and the school is considering rolling out the bar as a regular component of the lunch program. Way to go Kelly and the FoodCorps team!
Applications to join the Chicopee Community Garden for the 2019 growing season are now open and will be accepted on a rolling basis until the end of May! To apply, visit the Parks and Recreation office on Front Street to fill out an application and submit a $25 fee. No one will be turned away, so if you cannot afford the $25 fee, simply indicate you would like a fee waiver on your application. If you would prefer to mail your application, you can download an application by clicking the button below.
Each member of the community garden receives their own 6'x12' plot to grow in for the season (May - October). Seeds, growing advice, and other resources are provided to members as needed.
Members have access to a shed, which contains a hose and various garden tools.
The ChicopeeFRESH team is a group of creative individuals who are working to feed Chicopee students healthy, local and FRESH foods each day.