FoodCorps Update

from Leah Hindel

Another short week for FoodCorps! On Wednesday morning, Ms. Hartmann's class planted a mix of native pollinator flowers as part of their butterfly highway project. We finished just in time for the rain to soak all the seeds - we hope to see colorful blooms soon! In the afternoon, K-4 Horizons designed experiments using worms from the vermicomposting bins. We found out that worms can climb slopes and navigate mazes pretty well :)

In other news, I am in need of volunteers and material donations!
  • If your family would like to help take care of the gardens over the summer, sign up here!
  • If you can donate soil, containers, or spray bottles for planting Mother's Day flowers, sign up here!
  • If you would like to help with Earth Day activities on April 21, sign up here!

This week, students practiced their nutrition label literacy. First, we talked about some important terms found on nutrition facts labels, including serving size, calories, and percent daily value. Then, we compared nutritional information found on two different products to figure out which one was a healthier choice. Students learned to look for products with more calcium, protein, and vitamins and avoid products with lots of sodium, sugar, and fat.

Speaking of healthy choices, tomorrow is the second Garinger Greens tasting in the cafeteria! The fresh lettuce will be harvested in the greenhouse at Garinger High School in the morning and delivered to Barringer in time for lunch. The sample salads will be topped with either a Greek Yogurt Ranch dressing or a Balsamic-Thyme dressing.

Reminder: Please sign up to help maintain the gardens over the summer! We need one family per week to help ensure our garden is ready to go in the fall!

Despite the frigid weather this week, the gardens are still growing! If you look closely, you can see tiny turnip, radish, spinach, and lettuce sprouts in the raised beds. Warmer weather is on the forecast for next week so hopefully we will see more growth. If you would like to help maintain the garden over the summer, please sign up here.

The FoodCorps lesson this week was about food systems. Students learned vocabulary words that are used when discussing food systems, including consumer, conventional, local, and seasonal. Then, we did an activity that helped us see the difference between a conventional food system and a local food system. Using lettuce as an example, students thought of all the different people involved in getting food from a farm to a consumer. Students became farmers, truck drivers, pilots, food safety inspectors, chefs, cafeteria workers, grocery store owners, and more- all people who have a role in the conventional food system. Next, we acted out a local food system using the lettuce grown at Garinger High School as the example. We saw how there were many fewer steps and just a few people involved in this small-scale, local system. Fewer people involved means better traceability and more transparency about the food system. Students also discussed how the local food system supports the community and the food is fresher than food from the conventional food system. Everyone will have another chance to sample the Garinger Greens during lunch next Friday!

The beautiful weather this week was perfect for gardening at Barringer. On Wednesday morning, Ms. Passe and Ms. Joy's classes demonstrated great teamwork as they worked together to plant carrots, radishes, lettuce, and more in the garden. Mr. Nasife's and Ms. Metcalf's students also had a chance to get their hands dirty in the garden. Snowy weather is forecast for this weekend, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that our seedlings survive!

Classes that planted in the garden last week had a lesson on added sugar in various beverages. We discussed the difference between natural sugar, such as fructose found in fruit and lactose in milk, and added sugar, such as high fructose corn syrup in sodas. We also learned how to read nutrition labels and where to find serving size, calories, grams of sugar, and types of sugar. At the end, we used table sugar to measure the amount of sugar in each drink. Can you believe that one 20 ounce soda has 71 grams of sugar? That's about 18 teaspoons- the USDA recommends about 3-4 teaspoons per day. Finally, students sampled a sugar-free drink: citrus cilantro infused water. I encouraged everyone to pay attention to the nutrition label and stick to water, 100% juice, and milk.

This week was all about getting seeds in the ground! The earlier we start gardening, the sooner we can harvest and eat all the veggies and herbs we grow. Eight classes planted early spring crops that can tolerate a bit of cold weather (i.e. the drop to freezing temperatures coming this weekend) in the raised beds, including carrots, radishes, turnips, cilantro, parsley, beets, spinach, nasturtium, and lettuce. On Monday, students in Mrs. Ashworth and Ms. Mondanaro's classes led younger students in Ms. Easop and Mrs. Hull's classes in planting seeds. Wednesday morning was dedicated to planting an herb garden with students in Mrs. Brown and Mrs. McGowan's classes. Mrs. Petrillo and Mrs. Head's classes used what they learned a few weeks ago about square foot gardening to help plant in the courtyard beds. Even the after school groups got to plant carrots, radishes, beets, and peas in the hoop house! Now it's just a matter of taking good care of the garden beds so the plants will grow and produce delicious, fresh food for us to eat! :)

This week, FoodCorps lessons were all about love - specifically, how plants can love and support each other in the garden. Students thought back to November when we read the Three Sisters legend and learned how corn, beans, and squash benefit each other when planted together in a garden. This method of pairing crops in a way that make the whole garden better is called companion planting. Since Valentine's Day was this week, I thought it was the perfect time to learn about companion planting and discuss which crops "love" each other and which would rather stay away from one another. Students chose a plant card and got into pairs to see if their plants were better together or apart. We learned that certain flowers, like marigolds and nasturtiums, "love" almost every other plant in the garden! After pairing with several different partners, students used their knowledge of companion planting (and of square foot gardening) to design a garden. Finally, we enjoyed a naturally-sweet Valentine's Day treat of strawberries, red grapes, and cherry tomatoes. We think that everyone should try to be more like a marigold and spread the love!

Q: What do you call a creature with no eyes and no teeth who can turn your garbage into nutritious plant food?
A: A red wiggler worm!

This week was all about red wiggler worms and how they can turn our trash into treasure for our garden. Students discussed how pollution, food waste, and poor soil quality can be addressed with composting. Building on what they learned about layered compost a few weeks ago, students focused on vermicomposting (using worms to make compost) this week. Everyone got a chance to admire my acting skills and use their observation skills as I explained how to build a vermicomposting bin without any words. Each student recorded the steps in their FoodCorps journals and learned some interesting worm facts, like that there are 4,000 species of worms but only 6 that are used for vermicomposting. Next week, we will be building worms bins for real!

How to build your own vermicomposting bin!

Happy New Year BAC families! I hope you all had a great break and are enjoying the first few days of 2017. This week in FoodCorps lessons, students learned about how to eat healthier in the new year. We discussed that one popular New Year's resolution is eating more fruits and veggies. We used the MyPlate tool to learn about the different food groups and portion sizes. Then, students competed with each other to name as many fruits and veggies as they could in 3 minutes. To make it even harder, they had to sort the fruits and veggies by color. It was especially hard to think of white fruits and veggies! We finished up the lesson by making a yummy fruit smoothie and toasting to the new year. Here's the recipe:

Healthy New Year Smoothie
2 cups frozen fruit of your choice
1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1 cup orange juice
2 TBSP honey
Optional: Handful of spinach, kale, collards, or other green

Blend all the ingredients together and add water or ice until you reach desired consistency. Enjoy!