On June 25th, we hosted our first ever School Garden Training as a voluntary professional development opportunity for Chicopee K-5 educators. We were thrilled to have a group of 10 teachers and paraprofessionals from six schools join us at the Stefanik Garden for a day of hands-on learning focused on building, maintaining, and utilizing school gardens.
Thanks to Panera, Starbucks, Stop & Shop, and Bernat's, we were able to provide participants with breakfast and lunch to fuel a fun day of learning. We started off with a tour of the garden, led by FoodCorps service member, Molly Burke (pictured below). Molly has been busy working in the garden with Stefanik students this year!
After discussing ways to engage students in the garden and connect gardening to the curriculum, participants got to work building two 4x4 ft raised garden beds, which will become a part of the new Lambert Lavoie School Garden. Teams raced against each other (unofficially) to see who could put together their raised bed the fastest. Below is one of the teams with their beautiful finished bed!
After our garden building session, participants continued to get hands-on by harvesting food for their lunch. We harvested kale for a big kale salad, and garlic scapes and basil for a delicious garlic scape pesto. Find the pesto recipe here. This was a great example of how easy it can be to cook with kids in the garden!
In the afternoon, we wrapped up the training with sessions on fundraising and starting a garden club, led by Bowe teacher and Farm to School Planning Team member, Harry Brandt. Mr. Brandt, a former journalist, walked participants through the process of creating a media packet to highlight their school garden program. He also shared his tips and tricks for creating a successful after-school garden club like the one at Bowe Elementary. Additionally, we discussed ways to save money by using recycled materials such as cardboard, milk cartons, pallets, milk jugs, etc. The possibilities are endless if you get creative!
A big thanks to all of the incredible educators who came out to our training! We hope to be able to host more workshops in the future and continue to grow a network of school garden champions across the district.
By Molly Burke, FoodCorps Service Member
Looking for a healthy twist on the desserts your kids love? Here are two, tested and approved by Stefanik Stars! We experimented with healthy substitutions in this delicious brownie batter recipe, which, with a few ingredient omissions, doubles as a vegan ice cream topping or dipping sauce for fruit. These brownies are made with black beans instead of flour for a fudgy texture and a big dose of healthy fiber and plant protein. You can also substitute fiber-and-vitamin-rich dates for half of the sugar without sacrificing sweetness. The best part is that you can’t taste the black beans--even in the raw chocolate sauce! It’s almost too good to be true.
For brownies: Preheat oven to 350F. Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Add all ingredients except chocolate chips or walnuts to a blender and blend until smooth. Add milk or water a few tablespoons at a time if mixture is too thick to blend. Fold in desired toppings and stir with a spoon to combine. Pour batter into a greased baking dish and bake at 350F for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick or knife comes out clean (if you added liquid, cook time may be longer). Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then serve. Makes about 16 brownies.
Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth, adding more water if too thick. Can also use a bowl and hand mixer or potato masher. Serve over ice cream or as a dipping sauce for your favorite fruit. We tried it with strawberries and bananas!
The ChicopeeFRESH team is a group of creative individuals who are working to feed Chicopee students healthy, local and FRESH foods each day.