With the guidance of the Naturalist, children are involved in preparing the soil in the school's garden, planting and growing the vegetables. Together with the children, the Naturalist and Educators plan the seasonal crops and decide the location of the plants. Throughout the growing season children weed, water, maintain and harvest the garden regularly. Gardening reinforces responsibility and respect for nature, by creating awareness of where food comes from and how plants grow. It increases knowledge of the seasons and instills the value of nutrition and sustainability of seasonal eating. Care-taking chickens and eating eggs from the school's chicken coop is also part of the experience the children receive with the Farm to School Program.
Educators and children prepare the food each day. The Farm to School daily lunch consists of a nut-free, vegetarian meal that includes organic milk, delivered weekly from Nature's Garden. They chop and steam the vegetables and grains, and serve the delicious meals to each classroom. Simple, small appliances such as steamers and crock pots are used to cook the food. Each day lunch consists of some type of bean (protein), a grain, one or two vegetables and a fruit. The children also make bread for special occasions and have been known to make pizza dough, pasta and cheese.
Besides food that is harvested from the school's own gardens and produce supplemented from the DeKalb International Farmer's Market and Whole Foods, we have partnered with two farms and receive weekly CSA's (Community Supported Agriculture). Riverview Farms located in Ranger, Georgia, deliver the CSA boxes to a neighbor in Grant Park from where children and educators pick up weekly. The second CSA is with Brightside Farms and is located on Bouldercrest Road, just two miles south of the East Atlanta Village. This partnership gives us the opportunity to experience the life of a working farm on a regular basis. The children take regular field trips to pick up the CSA and to interact with the food and the animals that live on the farm. Erin Cescutti is the young and passionate farmer who is behind the operations of the farm. You can meet Erin at the Grant Park Farmers Market on any given Sunday.
“I am excited to see the children so eager to try the foods that we are introducing to them with the lunch program! It is wonderful to see healthy eating habits being established. I love the opportunity to help provide this fresh and local food to the children as well as to my own child within the school community! I get more and more enthusiastic about the new hot lunch program! Seeing the children crunching on fresh raw burgundy okra is a thing of beauty!” ~ Amber Carpenter, mother of Luna Wren