From Small Potatoes to 36,000 Pounds of Carrots: Farm to School Grows
Posted by Alan Shannon, USDA Food and Nutrition Service, Midwest Region, on January 27, 2014 at 11:00 AM
On January 15th, Growing Power’s Will Allen joined Chicago Public School, Aramark, FarmLogix and USDA staff to celebrate 36,000 pounds of carrots grown locally and served to Chicago students.
In the past few years I’ve seen an increasing number of news stories about successful farm to school programs. As reflected in the first USDA Farm to School Census, farm to school programs are thriving from Alaska to Florida and in every state between.
I attended a recent event that demonstrates just how quickly—and by what lengths—farm to school is growing. On January 15th, students in all Chicago Public Schools (CPS) were served sliced carrots grown at a farm only 90 miles away in Milwaukee.
Yes, you read that right. A farm in Milwaukee.
Growing Power, a small urban farm founded by former NBA player Will Allen, was approached by Linda Mallers of FarmLogix, who supports the school district’s farm to school program. Because CPS has over 400,000 students, more than a truckload of carrots was needed. Growing the required amount—36,000 pounds—required a lot of planning.
An African saying holds that it takes a village to raise a child. It might also be said that it takes a village to make farm to school thrive. Food hubs, processors, transporters, food service companies and schools—not to mention farmers, all play vital roles in growing a robust and thriving farm to school system.
From the beginning, the commitment of CPS Nutrition Services Director Leslie Fowler and Aramark was essential to the project’s success. Innovative tech firm FarmLogix played a key role throughout, working with nutritionists, supply chain and marketing staff from Aramark (CPS’ foodservice vendor) on pricing, processing specifications, delivery scheduling and promotion. FarmLogix also worked with Growing Power’s team on the harvest schedule and with the processor and distributors on production and scheduling. It took several weeks and the contributions of many to get the carrots to students’ plates.
Once the carrots harvested from Growing Power’s Milwaukee farm were sliced, they were nearly ready to be served to Chicago Public School students.
Why go through so much trouble to source food from local farms? Well, I spoke to a number of people involved, and they were all excited about the purchase and the events held the day the carrots were served.
For CPS students, the nutritious carrots connected them to a local farmer, Will Allen. On the day the carrots were served, Allen visited three schools and talked to hundreds of students about the importance of eating fruits and vegetables. For Growing Power and its Milwaukee neighborhood, the money it received for the carrots help support farm and food processing jobs.
For FarmLogix, a small company which is quickly expanding its farm to school business, the purchase and relationships it has created means it can continue to sustain and grow its business—which has included hiring new staff.
Yes, it takes a village to grow farm to school, but the effort yields considerable dividends. From healthier Chicago children to thriving farms and small businesses, Farm to School delivers.
Carrots grown at Growing Power’s Milwaukee farm were large and so had to be sliced in order to serve them to around 400,000 Chicago Public School students.
Member Spotlight: Shorewood High School Culinary Arts Program November 20th, 2013, 4:07 pm This month we talked with Shorewood High School’s Culinary Arts program in Shoreline, Washington, to learn more about how a culinary education program for high school students puts sustainability into its curriculum.
Tell us about Shorewood High Schools Culinary Arts program. When and why did it start?
In 1990, Bev Anderson, Family and Consumer Science Education (FACSE) teacher inherited an industry-based foods class known as FEAST, Food Equipment and Service Training. Over the next two years this class transitioned
from a technically oriented program to a more expansive curriculum that featured not only food preparation skills and restaurant industry standards, but also made students aware of amazing opportunities in the food service and hospitality industries. As academic and vocational skills were blended, collegebound students with a passion for food also found their way into this class. Bob Short, the principal at Shorewood at the time, and Linda Thompson, the district Vocational Director recognized the value of expanding the program and incorporating a broader-based curriculum. There was terrific support at all levels for this program and, with that support; they were able to build an awardwinning program that gained recognition throughout the greater Seattle area.
How many students are involved in the Culinary Arts program?
Currently there are 25 students enrolled in the program. Although Culinary Arts
is more professionally focused, we offer it as an elective to the general student population, classes that focus on Food and Nutrition and Cuisines and Cultures. These classes focus on how to make quality, nutritious food at home while incorporating the diversity of the world we live in.
Who are the teachers?
Diana Dillard is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. Her chef experience includes positions as Executive Sous chef for The Club Corporation of America in Miami, Chef tournant at Fuller’s in The Seattle Sheraton, and owner/executive chef of Rain City Grill in Seattle. While she owned and operated Rain City Grill, it was voted one of the city’s top five restaurants. She participated in the first-ever chef’s exchange with the former Soviet Union, during which she prepared meals for U.S. and Soviet ambassadors. Diana taught professional culinary arts courses at Seattle Culinary Academy before coming to Shorewood High School.
Wendy Jordan is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America. She is new to Shorewood High School, yet brings with her a wealth of experience. She recently relocated to the Seattle area with her family from Las Vegas, where for 12 years, she and her husband, owned and operated Rosemary’s Restaurant. Wendy has also been chef/owner of her own catering company, and taught at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts for 7 years. She is currently teaching at Seattle Culinary Academy part-time and Shorewood High School as a paraeducator.
How do they include sustainable practices in their curriculum?
Our Culinary Arts program created a culinary garden in collaboration with the Master Gardeners program of Washington State University’s Cooperative
Extension. Our students participate in the planning, planting, nurturing and use of the garden. They are introduced in a hands-on way to the understanding of
where their food comes from and they will carry this with them as they move on to culinary schools, college and the working world. Our program operates a catering business, which is open to the public, and items from the garden are utilized whenever possible. We also foster monthly guest chef dinners, which focus on the use of the culinary garden as well as meats and seafood that are
How have the students reacted to the program’s sustainability focus?
Many of our students have grown up in a climate of sustainability without realizing it. Seattle is a very progressive city that supports P-Patch community gardens, and numerous organizations that support healthy food education. But for those who this is not the norm, our sustainability practices are eye opening. One of the goals of the program is to combine the art of creating menus with preparing foods featuring local, seasonal items and preservation techniques. Utilization is another goal that inspires their creativity. We throw nothing away, introducing the students to our composting system in the garden, and canning garden items to sell at our annual Farmer’s Market. The students react with interest and excitement as they learn this new way of thinking and participate in selling at the market.
What do you still have to conquer?
Our program’s biggest task to conquer is the state of our Culinary Arts garden. Shorewood High School recently moved into a new building and our beautiful, well-established garden, had to be uprooted and will be paved over. We are basically starting over, applying for grants and trying to raise the money to begin again. We have tremendous support in regards to the physical labor, now we just need the funding.
What is next for the program?
We are currently working on increasing our enrollment for Culinary Arts, in order to offer Culinary Arts I and II. We want to focus the class towards transferable work-place skills such as basic cooking techniques and knife skills and then move them into applying leadership, teamwork, and problem solving skills. To do this, we invite local chefs to Shorewood to feature “Chef Dinners” which give students the experience of working with the best chefs in our city and learning both “front of the house” and “back of the house” skills. This sometimes leads to internships for our students at Seattle restaurants where chefs recognize the students’ level of technical proficiency and allow them to experience professional restaurant kitchens while earning wages and learning invaluable skills. We have also received approval for a new textbook and we are interested in using their companion software, MyCulinaryLab. This is a great way to incorporate technology into our Culinary Arts classroom.
Why is Shorewood High School a member of Chefs Collaborative?
Both of the chef instructors are industry professionals and have past experience and passion for Chefs Collaborative, as well as other industry based organizations. The value these organizations provide to the individual is paramount as they translate the over load of information and politics surrounding food today, into a format that is usable and understandable. We want the students to get a taste of their benefits through membership. The Seattle chapter of Chefs Collaborative has gone above and beyond, to help involve our
students. They offer scholarships to many to attend the meet and greet/educational events, taking into account their families’ current financial limitations.
What are some of the student’s favorite ingredients that were new to work with?
Lacinato kale, McEwen & Sons grits – Alabama, tarragon, taro root, celeriac, pomegranite, and fresh pasta.
Students in our SW program gain not only competency in culinary skills, but also a sense of being a part of a very valued and esteemed program. Several graduates of Shorewood Culinary Arts, many with college degrees, have continued in the industry, becoming Executive Chefs in Seattle.
Posted by: Isabelle Levenson
A young artist takes a shot...
Areeya Tipyasothi, writes about Shorewood Culinary Arts' Premier Chef Dinner. She shares her story with us.
Thursday. 2:25. In the few minutes after the school bell signaled the start of the three-day weekend, students poured out of their respective classrooms and into the already packed hallways.
Some navigated the masses in an attempt to find their friends; others pushed their way through the crowd, desperately hoping that their ride hadn't left without them yet. Chatter filled the Commons and people excitedly yelled their plans for the long weekend, their voices competing with two hundred other equally as excited students. But as time moved on, so did people.
Less than an hour later, the Commons were silent, save for the occasional squeaking footsteps of a lingering teacher or the low whir of a custodial cleaning machine.
Shorewood had been deserted by it’s main inhabitants for the weekend. Most of them, that is.
Near the hallway of the 1100s wing, the sounds of sizzling, clanging pots and pans, and scurrying footsteps infiltrated the otherwise hushed school. Farther down the hall, a melody of tantalizing savory scents infused the air with a feeling of warmth, only further accentuated by bubbly laughter and babble streaming from an open door.
The after-hours activity was coming from the students of Diana Dillard and Wendy Jordan’s Culinary Arts class, though it certainly wasn’t normal for them to stay after school to cook, no matter how enjoyable class was.
The reason for the students’ culinary diligence was that the evening marked the first ever Chef Dinner of the school year and the first ever Chef Dinner prepared and executed in the shiny new school kitchen.
The Chef Dinners are a series of events over the year where professional and highly-acclaimed chefs in the Seattle area volunteer their time and expertise to supervise SW students in making a classy multiple-course dinner complete with dim lights, flickering candles, and long, elegant tablecloths. Though before the twinkly lights and tasteful clinking of silverware against china could happen, there was work to be done.
Situated in the Culinary Arts-classroom-turned-dining-room, Dillard observed the frenzied activity of students with an excited glint in her eye and began describing how the transition from the old school has affected the Chef Dinners thus far.
“We’re in the new building this year, so things have changed. This is our first chef dinner here so that’s why things are a little crazy right now[because] we’re kind of trying to feel things out and figure things out. Last year with two rooms, we were able to sit 83 and tonight we’ll try[to sit] 80 people in one room,” said Dillard. “We can do larger parties in the Commons but for our first Chef Dinner I thought we would just stick to this room."
The Commons are located just down the hall from the Culinary Arts kitchen, providing ample seating for guests if necessary, which it should be when word gets out that pros like Chef Desmond “Desi” Bonow of Tom Douglas’s Palace Kitchen as well as Chefs Adrienne Chamberlain(Etta’s) and Nate Crave(Seatown) are participating. All three chefs have already been involved with Shorewood’s Culinary Arts in one way or another and all three found themselves coming back for more.
“All three of them said that they wanted to come back to share and do something nice for the program; they found that it was just really worthwhile of their time - their precious time - to come in and work with these students. They get a lot out of it themselves.”
Chef Desi was eager that afternoon to work with the young chefs-in-training. “It’s actually really exciting to see young people who are showing interest in cooking, so... I’m very excited, it’s going to be fun," Bonow said.
Chef Dinners are $35 per person. Upcoming dates can be found online at www.shorewoodculinaryarts.org/chef-dinners. Tickets go fast, so get yours today!
Culinary Arts has been an experience and a half this year with two CIA graduates as the mentors. The class was more than I expected when I was twelve, which was the time when I dreamed about this particular course. I never knew about how catering worked as well as the ins and outs of the food service industry. It was refreshing to see what it is like behind the curtain. The level of dedication in our team was very impressive along with the quality that went out of the door. A major lesson I learned was the importance of sanitation. Safety was emphasized as a main priority, which I believe is an important value. Even though it was sad to see our friends leave, we have learned to embrace it and we're ready to face the unexpected.