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Originally posted October 16, 2012
Second-grader Hayley Kinchelle reacts to holding an earthworm during Union Public Schools' Farm to School event Friday at Peters Elementary School. SARA PLUMMER/Tulsa World
Farm to School event brings fresh new experiences to students
BY SARA PLUMMER Tulsa World Staff Writer
(Reprinted with Permission. This is not an endorsement.)
The students from Union's Peters Elementary School were eager to try the whole-wheat pancakes and watermelon salsa. They were a little more cautious when it came to tabouli, and they exchanged doubtful glances when it came to grilled squash and zucchini.
But almost every student tried them all, and some were pleasantly surprised.
"This is actually really good," second-grader Drake Edens said, a little shocked, after trying tabouli for the first time.
He even asked for a second sample.
The students spent part of their school day Friday learning about how food is grown and eventually ends up on their tables during the annual Farm to School event.
Students spent seven to eight minutes at each of the 11 stations learning everything from how to milk a cow, the role of chickens on a farm, the importance of fruit and vegetables and how they grow, what "whole wheat" means, the importance of worms and dirt, and the process milk goes through from the cow to the carton.
The students even made their own biodegradeable pots out of newspaper and took home a vegetable plant they can grow at home.
Libby Anderson, nutrition educator at Union Public Schools, organized the first Farm to School event almost eight years ago when she worked at Tulsa Public Schools. She started the program at Union several years ago.
Now both districts hold Farm to School events each year with support from the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture.
Volunteers from the Oklahoma State University Extension Service, Tulsa Master Gardeners, Borden Dairy, Go Fresh Produce, Peach Crest Farms and Union's Child Nutrition Department ran the stations Friday.
Anderson said the Union district holds two of these events each year at different school sites. Each time, she tries to keep some of the students' favorite activities and foods but also brings in new ones.
"I want them to know about Oklahoma agriculture," she said. "I want them to know about nutrients and the importance of eating fresh foods."
Melissa Paschall, a first-grade teacher at Peters, appreciates what the Farm to School event teaches her students.
"A lot of these kids live in the city. They don't get to experience this unless we bring the farm to them," Paschall said. "All of this is so new to them - touching worms, touching chickens."
This is the third year Cissy Smith, director of child nutrition at Go Fresh Produce, has participated in Union's program. This year she brought tabouli, a salad of cracked bulger wheat mixed with chopped cucumbers, tomatoes and parsley, for the students. In previous years, she's brought hummus, a dip or spread made from garbanzo beans, and guacamole, a dip made from avocados.
"We have something for them to try that they've probably never tried before," Smith said. "Some don't know what parsley is or don't know what a cucumber is."
Having hands-on activities at the stations for the students is key, Anderson said.
"They like to be doing something," she said. "We set it up like a country fair."
The hope is that the students come to understand the impact farms have and the importance of eating fresh and whole, unprocessed foods and will spread the word at home.
"The kids ask, 'Whole wheat? What's that?' " Paschall said. "That will be something they can tell their parents at the grocery store."
Peters Elementary School second-grader Caris Fore munches on a whole-wheat pancake during Union Public Schools' Farm to School event Friday. SARA PLUMMER/Tulsa World
Second-grader Hayley Kinchelle reacts to holding an earthworm during Union Public Schools' Farm to School event Friday at Peters Elementary School. Photos by SARA PLUMMER/Tulsa World
Kimberly Oliver, with the OSU Extension Service's Community Nutrition Education Program, grills zucchini squash during Union Public Schools' Farm to School event Friday. SARA PLUMMER/Tulsa World