Ms. Bonny Putney from the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeepers came to our Ecology Club meeting this month. She told us that our drinking water is six feet deep and many states are fighting for Georgia’s water. Aaron Frank, kindergartener, suggested that we should build another lake.
The same day we went outside to view Chesnut’s rainbarrels. The rainbarrels collect the water when it rains. We used the water in the rainbarrels to water the plants. This was really cool!
That’s what one 4th grader suggested last Wednesday, upon learning that the cafeteria had sold out of Georgia-grown strawberries earlier in the lunch period. Another 4th grader requested that next month we wait until the fourth graders arrive before putting out the farm-to-school lunch item. Having served up all the strawberries to the Pre-K through 3rd graders, one food service staff member agreed, “next time, we’ll have to order more.”
If the popularity of the locally grown strawberries is any indication, it certainly looks like Chesnut students’ excitement about local, fresh fruits and vegetables is exceeding expectations. “These are so good!” “I love strawberries!” In several cases, Chesnut Changers reported giving out more hand stamps than there were lunches bought, as more children than ever before brought the monthly item from home to participate.
Some of our more refined tasters, 3rd grade Chesnut Changers Shay Martin and Sam Grant weighed in: “These are a little sourer than usual.” “Yes, a bit sour, a bit sweet.”
Chesnut Changer Parent Sponsor Angela Renals poses these questions many times throughout the lunch period: “Why are we making a big deal about food that is grown in Georgia? Why does our hand stamp say ‘go green’?”
Some students shrug, others ask “why?” while Chesnut Changers brush up on what they’ve learned, offering “it’s healthy, it has lots of nutrients.” And suddenly fourth grader A’ta cheerfully supplies, “it uses less fossil fuels if it’s not shipped from far away, so less pollution too. That’s why it’s green.” Then his classmates say, “oh, yeah” and jump into the conversation. And that’s what the stirrings of stewardship sound like on Strawberry Day at Chesnut Charter Elementary.
What was once the front window in Chesnut Changer Parent Sponsor Angela Renals’ house, is now the new sign for the Chesnut Garden, thanks to the beautiful artistry of Chesnut’s CELL (Creative Enrichment Learning Laboratory) teacher, Ms. Lee Ann Brunson. (Children who are inspired by Ms. Brunson’s creativity can keep taking art lessons from her over the summer at her Art-LAB summer camps at Dunwoody United Methodist Church).
Ms. Brunson dreamed up the design, spruced up the old paned window, and brought to life a picture of the garden’s bounty, which now watches over our raised bed organic vegetable garden (thanks to PTA Clean & Beautiful Co-Chair Andrew Hirst).
At May 5th Clean & Beautiful, 9 am – 1 pm, please join us as we complete the outdoor classroom installation.
We’ll be adding tree stump seating, an outdoor “chalkboard”, and tasting board where the classes can record their reactions. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you will be there!
WHEN: Saturday and Sunday, April 21 & 22, 10 am to 5 pm
WHERE: The Greenhouse in Brook Run Park (next to the skate park)
WHAT: Fruit Tree Orchard Grant – VOTES NEEDED — this orchard will supply the food pantry at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church.
WHEN: Once registered, you can vote daily to increase the Dunwoody Community Garden’s chance of winning.
HOW: Visit http://orchard2012.org/ for voting instructions.
Last month’s DeKalb County Farm to School food of the month was carrots, which arrived freshly shredded to Chesnut’s cafeteria where lunch staff turned them into a carrot and raisin salad. Earlier in the week, on Walk to School Day, Chesnut Changers Teacher Sponsor Christen Ramo dressed up as a carrot to remind walkers that another healthy practice is eating locally grown, nutritious vegetables.
On Carrot Day, we missed the Pre-K and Kindergarten students who were away on a field trip, but for the other classes, Chesnut Changers eagerly doled out hand stamps and reported on their class’ tasting percentages. Several students who had brought carrots from home also happily received hand stamps.
The standout class was Ms. Austin’s first grade, which reported a 94% tasting rate, but across all the classes, the numbers were not consistently high — as they were last month for Cabbage Day. Perhaps a portion of the children prefer their vegetables prepared simply. Previously the farm to school food has been steamed or boiled, salted and served. The creativity of dressing the carrots and including raisins for a salad may have been too adventurous for some of the students. Though certainly some appreciated the recipe: “I tasted it. It was awesome!”
Tomorrow – Wednesday, April 18th – Georgia-Grown STRAWBERRIES are on the menu! Will they be the most popular of all the farm to school foods this year?
AT-HOME ACTION: Try Ms. Malone’s Cabbage Salad Recipe
1 organic red cabbage from Chesnut’s garden, shredded
2 organic carrots, sliced
5 organic green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
2 (3 ounce) packages ramen noodles (seasoning packet excluded)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
Toss all ingredients to combine and serve!
Optional garnish: organic cilantro (from the garden), chopped, served on the side