September 22, 2011 at 8:59 a.m.
To kick off the start of the school year and Farm to School Month in Minnesota, the schools purchase a wide variety of products; ranging from three varieties of melons, onions, cucumbers, jalapeno peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, zucchini, summer squash, spinach and fresh herbs such as cilantro and purple basil. The produce has been beautiful, and of exceptional quality and flavor. Sweet corn, which they shucked, cut in half, and froze for the district means we will be able to have local grown sweet corn in January and February, said the Food Services Director Kathy Burrill.
Jessica Paul and Ricardo Piedades, the growers at JPS Farms are committed to working together with Chisago Lakes Schools to form a symbiotic relationship that brings farm to school full circle. This will be accomplished by some of the plans and goals laid out.
We will be recycling the food scraps at Taylors Falls Elementary, and collecting sawdust at both the Middle and High School to use for compost to create new soil which will be used to grow the produce for our district. We will be looking at having students who are enrolled in the Agriculture classes at the high school who are interested consider part time employment at the farm. They will help with the planting and care of the produce that will be grown for the district. And, this will be done year round added Burrill. How can this be done in the harsh Minnesota winter? JPS Farms have constructed several large green houses, using the "hoop house" technology. There will be a variety of lettuce and greens, spinach, tomatoes, and other produce on a regular basis to use in menus year round. "We also have plans for student education about the produce and the farm during lunch hours in the cafeteria, in the classroom and even tours of the farm," said Burrill.
It is a true community spirit and effort, and both the students and staff of Chisago Lakes Schools benefit as well as JPS Farms.