Zucchini and summer squash provide nutritious value to your diet. Zucchini and summer squash provides vitamins B6, riboflavin, folate, C, and K, and minerals, like potassium and manganese. Health benefits of zucchini are improvement in digestion, lowers blood sugar level, improves thyroid and adrenal functions, and boosts energy.
Zucchini and summer squash that are ready to harvest are 6-8 inches long and are firm and dark green or yellow. Harvesting zucchini and summer squash, you can use a knife, scissors, or pruners. With the tool you cut about 1" to 2" from the body of the fruit. If you don’t have a knife or scissors you can use your hands. Grab the zucchini or summer squash fruit and twist it. Pulling the zucchini or summer squash may cause damage to the zucchini or summer squash and the plant.
The world’s largest zucchini on record was 69 1/2 inches long, and weighed 65 lbs. Bernard Lavery of Plymouth Devon, UK, was a farmer who grew the vegetable.
Green beans are a good source of vitamins A, C, K, B6, and folic acid. In terms of minerals, green beans are a good source of calcium, silicon, iron, manganese, potassium, and copper. Other benefits of eating green beans are reduced heart disease, and detoxifying harmful metabolites.
How to Harvest
Green beans are ready to harvest when the bean is 4 inches to 7 inches long and a width a little bit larger than a pencil. Harvesting green beans, grasp the bean where the bean and vine meet and just pull.
In the city of Blairsville, Georgia they have a festival called Green Bean Festival. On every last Sunday in July the city honors the vegetable, celebrating with cooking contests, beauty pageants, and other fun activities.
Fiber, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and phytonutrient are provided in eggplants. Eating eggplant benefits your aid in digestion, weight loss, anti-cancer-potential, improves bone health. Prevents anemia, and improves brain function.
How to Harvest
Eggplants are ready to be harvested when the fruit has a glossy and thin skin. There’s a test that can be used to determine eggplant maturity, by using your thumb press it against the fruit. If the flesh springs back it’s green and not ripe; if your thumb leaves an indentation, the fruit is overripe. To harvest, the best method is to use a sharp tool like a knife or scissors. With that tool cut 1 inch of the stem still attached to the eggplant. Using your hands to harvest will ruin the plant and the fruit.
Eggplants are relatives to the potato and tomato.
Insider Tip: We have mini eggplants growing in most of our school gardens! You can harvest when they are purple and 2-3 inches long. They're great chopped up and roasted or cooked on a skewer.
Cucumbers are mainly made out of water and have complex plant compounds. They contain vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5 and B6, folic acid, vitamin C, iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. Other healthy benefits is they are high in nutrients, contains antioxidants, and promotes hydration because of the high content of water that cucumbers have.
How to Harvest
When cucumbers are ready to be harvested you use a knife or a sharp tool to cut 1 inch of the stem off, this will allow the cucumber to stay fresh if you decide to store the cucumber for long period of time. Twisting or pulling may cause damage to the vine and plant.
Before taking a shower, rub a cucumber slice on the mirror and it won’t fog up.
Rich, mature tomatoes are a great source of Vitamins C, Vitamin K, Vitamin A, potassium, and folate. Tomatoes have health benefits like lowering heart disease, cancer prevention, and skin health.
How to Harvest
Harvest time for tomatoes generally is late summer. Depending on preference you can harvest your tomatoes when they are a mature green or a mature red. Harvesting the tomato, firmly but gently grip the tomato then grab the stem. After you have the stem and fruit in hand pull the fruit gently breaking the vine off of the tomato.
A small Spanish town in Buñol has a yearly festival called La Tomatina. During this festival, thousands of people gather around the town and have a huge tomato food fight.
Carrots are a good source of beta carotene, fiber, vitamin K1, potassium, and antioxidants. The antioxidants can help reduce the risks of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Some health benefits of carrots is reduced risk of cancer, lower blood cholesterol, weight loss, and eye health.
How to Harvest
To harvest carrots, dig around the carrot to loosen the soil. Grab the leaves of the carrots then firmly pull up.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the world’s longest carrot measured 20 feet, 5.86 inches.
Beets are loaded with vitamins and minerals and low in calories and fat. Beets have many health benefits like helping blood pressure, improving athletic performance, and fighting inflammation.
How to Harvest
To harvest beets, you firmly grasp the leaves where they meet with the beet, then pull the beet out of the ground. Another way to harvest is digging. You can dig around the beet then lift them from the ground.
When harvested, the entire plant is edible, from the tips of its leaves, down to its long pointed root.
By Kelly Zimmerhanzel, FoodCorps Service Member
It has been such a pleasure serving in Chicopee these past two years! Unfortunately, because the term limit for FoodCorps Service Members is 2 years, I will be moving on to something new after my service term ends this Friday. I had never been to Chicopee before I started serving here, but everyone in my two schools, Bowe and Lambert-Lavoie, and across the district welcomed me with open arms and made me feel right at home. Leaving is certainly bittersweet for me, because even though I am excited to move on to something new, I am already beginning to miss my students and all the staff that made my time here so special. Thank you to everyone who helped me during my service, I couldn't have done it without you! Chicopee will always hold a special place in my heart.
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!**
The ChicopeeFRESH team is a group of creative individuals who are working to feed Chicopee students healthy, local and FRESH foods each day.