As we prepare to teach the last lesson of the school year, I want to dedicate this post to the farm to school team and reflect on all of our accomplishments and hard work as we close out the 22/23 school year. Aside from our regular programming—direct lessons, school-wide tastings, farmer engagement activities, and school garden maintenance—this year, we also managed the hoop house renovation project at the TJHS school garden, provided an after school garden club program, welcomed Brooke, our new farm to school coordinator, and mentored Shania Sierra, TJHS high school student completing a Diverse Educator Pathway internship with us! We partnered with seven schools in all three school districts: Garibaldi Grade School (Neahkahnie SD); Tillamook Junior High School, Tillamook Early Learning Center, Head Start, East Elementary (TSD9); Nestucca Valley Early Learning Center and the 21st CCLC After School Program at Nestucca K-8 (NVSD), and together, our programming reached 1439 students throughout the county! Here is 22/23 F2S at a glance:
Number of students that received direct lessons: 418
Number of hours of direct lessons: 116 hours
Number of hours of farmer engagement activities: 18 hours
Number of local food samples distributed: 2287
Local food featured in school-wide tastings and lessons: carrots, seaweed, barley, cheddar, clams, cabbage, lettuce, hazelnut, tuna, purple-broccoli, rhubarb
Number of unique volunteers: 55
Number of volunteer hours and garden gatherings: 155
Number of hours of DEP paid internship: 120 hours
Number of pounds school garden vegetables donated: over 400 lbs.
Our lessons covered a wide-range of topics centered on hands-on and place-based learning, building gardening and cooking skills, story-telling, role-playing, and
applying classroom concepts to the school garden. In addition, students also connected with key stakeholders in our local food system, learning firsthand where our food comes from, how it is made, and career opportunities in the field. Some of the most popular lessons and activities this year included: classroom composting project at Garibaldi Grade School, broccoli cheddar soup making at 21st CCLC afterschool program, and a field trip to the Port of Garibaldi, where students learned about sustainable seaweed farming, fishing and crabbing.
This year, we also celebrated the renovation of the TJHS hoop house!
TSD9 secured a generous $10K grant from CHS, and the money was used to upgrade the hoop house siding, and purchase materials to create an outdoor classroom for Carrie Averill’s Intro and Advanced Ag classes. The
inside of the hoop house has been completely redesigned to accommodate both gardening and classroom space. Half of the hoop house will be dedicated to intensive gardening and the other half will be classroom and nursery space for Carrie’s and Food Roots’ lessons. We are thankful to Averill’s landscaping for donating all of the woodchip, compost and cinder blocks used for redesigning the raised beds! We are also thankful to our partnership with the Wilson River High School for bringing
students in the Oregon Youth Corps program to help demo and build the new garden space. Later in the Fall, the rest of the award fund will be used to upgrade the fencing surrounding the TJHS garden.
Finally, last October we celebrated Farm to School by providing a free garden club program to any K-8 student enrolled in both homeschool and public schools. We had such a positive response that we offered this programming again in the Spring. Garden club meets on Saturdays (we have our final Spring Garden club gathering on June 17) and we have great representation of students from all over the county, including homeschool programs, Nehalem elementary, South Prairie, East elementary, Garibaldi Grade School, Fire Mountain School, and Liberty
Elementary! Since we have limited capacity with the number of schools we can partner every year, garden club has allowed us to connect with students in the community outside of our partnerships. It is also a great volunteer opportunity for community members to be involved in the school garden. We relied on star volunteers such as Isabella Armenta, Ann O’Quinn and our intern Shania Sierra to make this programming available! In total, we hosted 55 unique volunteers that helped in the garden or participated in our garden committee gatherings this year, totaling 155 hours!
Aside from providing a space for learning and building community, the TJHS school garden also plays a small role in addressing food insecurity in our community. We donated over 400 lbs. of fresh produce grown in the school garden to the TJHS food pantry. But more important than the pounds of food donated, the garden offers a unique opportunity for youth and their families to learn how to grow their own food. This summer we are partnering with the Oregon Food Bank Ambassador program to provide mentorship, materials and garden space for 2-4 Latino families to grow their own vegetables!
Thank you Ariel, Brooke, our wonderful volunteers and partners for another successful Farm to School year!
If you are interested in getting involved in the school gardens and being a garden club volunteer in the Fall, please apply to become a Food Roots volunteer!
Carol Parks, Programs Manager