Chesnut PTA Brings Smoothie Food Truck to Field Day

Last year when Chesnut’s Ecology Club was formed, we ended the year with a grand finish:  winning a grant to fund a farmer’s stand and chef demo during Field Day. Where once cotton candy had been served, now the children were snacking on freshly baked pizzas with Chesnut Garden’s herbs and local, organically grown arugula, onions and strawberries.

One of the questions often asked in a grant application is how your organization plans to sustain the new program or facility. Turns out that the parents, teachers, students and staff so enjoyed this new healthy, fresh snack, that PTA added a line item for it as they planned this year’s budget. Special thanks to PTA President Ann Laffoon and PTA Vice President of Ways and Means Elizabeth Davis for supporting healthy eating at Chesnut. Beyond Field Day food, these parents also made Chesnut’s Wellness Team an official entity last summer, which gave parents and teachers a platform to introduce new health, nutrition and fitness initiatives this year.

IMG_2416Having Decatur’s Nectar food truck serve fresh fruit smoothies at Field Day perfectly culminated our year. After appearing in our new spring and fall Farm to School nutrition lessons, “Tasting a Rainbow of Plants” and “Eat Real First, Second Read Labels,” Super Kid returned to remind our students of the health benefits of eating fresh, multi-colored fruit. Students, teachers, staff and parents chose between an orange smoothie (with banana, mango, pineapple and orange) and a red smoothie (with strawberry, blueberry, banana and apple).

IMG_2419Though almost all agreed that the smoothies were delicious — “It tastes like ice cream, except it’s good for you!” — there were several chanted arguments about which color was best. “ORANGE!” “RED!” “ORANGE!” “RED!”

Fifth grade teacher and after-school step team sponsor Ms. Radden created an impromptu routine for the smoothies: “These smoothies are the best. The best of all the rest!”

Best of all, Wellness Team Co-Chairs Angela Renals and Jessica Spencer were asked by many students, “Which one is better for you?” “Which one has less sugar?” “How much sugar is in this smoothie?” “Which one’s super powers are better?” and “Can we have seconds?”

IMG_2420If we have smoothies again next year, we will definitely plan a larger quantity to make sure everyone gets their fill. Sadly, the last customers, Ms. Erbesfield’s second graders, missed out on the Field Day smoothies because we ran short. When they came out to the Chesnut Garden the following week, we made sure to bring them generous helpings of mango strawberry banana smoothie to make it up to them.


April Cole Slaw from Chesnut Garden

laura ms huitt class If cole slaw is a favorite side at your summertime barbeques, why not make your own with fresh, simple ingredients? Ms. Huitt’s Kindergarteners did after harvesting cabbages with the help of Chesnut Garden parent Laura McEwen back in April. They went into the cafeteria to wash, chop and prepare the recipe below. After tasting the slaw, Ms. Huitt and her students described it as:

  • “tangy”
  • “slippery”
  • “best ever”
  • “I loved it”
  • “I didn’t like it”
  • “I couldn’t taste the sugar”
  • “lemony”
  • “delicious”

all doneCole slaw was an April favorite, where it popped up at the lunch break during our second Farm to School health lesson, “Eat Real First, Second Read Labels.” Principal Williams joined the Wellness Team as we passed around homemade lunch items, and her favorite was Wellness parent Jo Chin’s purple cabbage cole slaw. Both recipes follow below.


At-Home Action Icon canstockphoto2179142At-Home Action: Make your own cole slaw!

Four-Vinegar Cole Slaw (Ms. Huitt’s class’ recipe)
– 16 ounces of finely chopped cabbage or a package of cole slaw mix
– 1/3 cup canola oil
– 2 tbsp white vinegar
– 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
– 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
– 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
–  1 tbsp sugar
– A few shakes of celery seed
– A few drops of lemon juice
– A little ground sea salt and black pepper

Mix all in a bowl and let sit for a little while to marinate before serving.

ChopChop Magazine’s Purple Cabbage Slaw (Jo Chin’s recipe)

purple cole slaw copy

–  head red cabbage (or 1 bag coleslaw mix)
– 2  carrots, scrubbed or peeled and grated
– 8  scallions, finely sliced
– 1⁄4 cup canola oil
– 1⁄4 cup rice vinegar
– 1⁄2 tsp salt
– 1 tsp black pepper


  1. Put everything in the bowl and toss well. Taste it and add more of anything you think it needs.
  2. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.

Fancy That:

– Add 1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil and 2 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
– Add 1 cup shredded, cooked chicken to make it a meal
– Add red pepper flakes (if you like spicy)

Ecology and Gardening Summer Camps 2013

Who knew Atlanta and its surrounding areas had so many opportunities for Chesnut Changers to delve deep into their eco-friendliness and future as urban farmers? If you’re still looking to schedule some camp time for your kids, you may be interested in:

Atlanta History Center Dig In! Summer Camp, June 3-7, Ages 6-11, 5 days, 9 am – 4 pm, $275

Go to the Atlanta History Center (130 West Paces Ferry Road NW, Atlanta, GA 30305-1366) to roll up your sleeves and learn how to fill your belly with groceries you grow yourself. Become an urban farmer and soak in soil preparation, build a worm bed, find out what to plant when and where, recognize good bugs and bad bugs, and even learn how to preserve and prepare all the goodies you grow.

Dunwoody Nature Center Summer Camps, June – August, 5 days, Ages: Half Day Camp for ages 3&4 – 9:30 – 12:30, $160; Full Day Camp for Rising K-5 – 9:30 am – 2:30 pm, $250

At the Dunwoody Nature Center (5343 Roberts Drive, Dunwoody 30338) we feature 22 acres and four distinct habitats that allow our campers to explore nature in a structured environment. By combining play and learning, children are able to grow and develop at their own pace and better understand how they are a part of the larger world.

Camp Kingfisher Summer Camps at Chattahoochee Nature Center, May 28 – August 9, Ages: K-7, 9 am – 4 pm, 1-week session – $410, 2-week session – $770

At Camp Kingfisher campers are grouped according to their grade level. Daily programming is designed to specifically meet the needs, interest and developmental level of your child. Each age group is named for one of the four native owl species in Georgia represented at the Chattahoochee Nature Center.

Edgewood Community Learning Garden Summer Camps, June 10-14, 17-21, and 24-28, Ages 5-11, 9 am – 2:30 pm, $220

This year’s summer camp  (at ECLG, 1503 Hardee Street, Atlanta, 30307) will provide an intensive and creative learning experience centered around urban agriculture. Ages 5-11 are welcome and session sizes are capped at 15 to ensure all children receive  maximum interaction during activities that range from planting seeds and harvesting vegetables, to creating art and garden ornaments. Special activities will include learning about the secret life of bees and chickens for the younger kids and opportunity to make fresh cheese from local milk and candles from bee’s wax for older children.  Local Master Gardener’s, Chefs, and urban agricultural experts will teach children a variety of topics to include gardening basics, cooking with vegetables, and environmental awareness.

Truly Living Well Summer Camps, June 3 – August 2, 2-week programs, Ages 6-14, 8 am – 5:30 pm, $375

Truly Living Well’s Summer Camp (TLW’s Wheat Street Gardens, 75 Hilliard Street, NE, downtown Atlanta, GA) is a place where dirt rocks and compost cooks! Children who attend Truly Living Well Summer Camp have a unique opportunity to connect with the land, experience the wonders of the garden, and become good environmental stewards at Atlanta’s premiere urban farm, Wheat Street Garden. In a two-week camp session, children 6 – 14 years of age engage in a wide range of farm related activities, including garden bed design and installation, scavenger hunts, hands-on experiments, crafting with nature, taking care of chickens, and swimming. In addition to our nature based program, children are introduced to healthy food choices through daily plant-based lunches, incorporating freshly harvested produce from the farm that children pick themselves! Research indicates that children are more likely to make healthy food choices when they are involved in growing and preparing the food. Professional chef demonstrations and kid-friendly meal preparation each week, ignite the imagination and entice the palate for nutritious foods. Combined with healthy food consumption and plenty of exercise, TLW’s camp experience has far reaching benefits that help children to eat and live better.

Green Explorers’ Environmental Day Camp, June 17-21, Ages: Rising 4th and 5th Graders, $100

Explore the outdoors at Fort Valley State University (2 hours south of Atlanta), farms and other local environmental field trips. Campers bring their own lunch, daily snacks are provided. For more information contact Sarah Brodd, DeKalb Cooperative Extension, 4380 Memorial Drive, Suite 200, Decatur, 30032, 404-298-4080,,

Farm to School Camp at Turning Sun School, June 17 – 21, Ages 2-10, 9 am – 1 pm, $175

Turning Sun School (2676 Clairmont Road NE, Atlanta, 30329) Farm to School Camp provides experiential opportunities for children through gardening/harvesting, composting and working with worms, and guerrilla farming (seed throws). Children begin forming food preferences as young as three. Our taste tests – either fresh from the garden or foods made with our harvest – encourage children to think critically about the food we eat and introduces them to the process of seed to plate. Children create their own recipes, perform taste tests and more. A sense of community is established through growing, sharing, and coming together to eat food.

Lifestyle Education – Preserving Fruits and Vegetable, June 22 – 10am-12pm

This event is held at Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve (3787 Klondike Road, Lithonia, 30038). Participate in lively and enlightening discussions about diet, nourishing foods, and disease prevention with Jessica Hill, DeKalb County Extension Coordinator. Gather at the Nature Center. Questions? Call the Nature Center at 770-492-5220 or email

Eco-explorers Day Camp, June 17-21, July 8-12 and July 15-19, 9am to 12pm, Ages: 4 -7, $175. During the week, your children will:

  • Explore different habitats found at the Blue Heron Nature Preserve (4055 Roswell Road, Atlanta, 30342) through games and activities
  • Discover the marvelous animals that make their home in Atlanta through observation and hands-on interaction
  • Develop their creative expression through the creation of art through nature
  • Have the time of their lives as they go hike, dig and play in nature, in a safe and enriching environment

Pick Your Own Berries at a Georgia Farm

IMG_2501Our cafeteria Farm to School programs are meant to educate the kids about the value of eating locally grown, fresh fruits and vegetables:

1. Their nutrient content is higher because they ripen on the plant

2. They reduce your carbon footprint by not having been shipped cross-country

3. They build the local economy (and local public school system) by keeping money in-state, and keep local farmers in business.

What better way to learn this than to put the kids to work picking their own locally grown food? Georgia berries are coming in to season, starting with strawberries this month, and next blueberries in June.

If you’re not growing them at home, a great online resource is, where you can see exactly what a farm is growing by county, as well as find picking/canning/storing tips. Farms listed in GREEN use natural or organic growing methods (so kids don’t have to pick in pesticide-sprayed fields). Always call ahead, because weather conditions affect crops and farm open hours. Most provide collection buckets, but check to make sure you don’t need to bring your own containers.

Two farms you’ll find at that use natural growing practices are:

Lone Oak Farm, 7633 Forrest Road, Grantville, GA (about 1 hour South of Dunwoody) – strawberries, Vidalia onions (7 for $5), blueberries

DJ’s U-Pick Blueberry Farm, 1839 Prospect Road, Lawrenceville, GA 30043 (about 30 minutes Northeast of Dunwoody) – blueberries ($10 a gallon), cows/goats for the kids to feed, vegetables from their garden

If you have a favorite local PYO farm, please share it below in the comments – and happy picking!IMG_2509