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by intern Sasha Hippard

The Willamette Food and Farm Coalition’s Farm to School project just finished their spring season with great success! Through lessons both on the farm and in the kitchen, students left with an increased knowledge of where their food comes from, how to prepare it, and the benefits of eating local and healthy ingredients.

The Willamette Food and Farm Coalition is a community based non-profit based in Lane County, Oregon. They represent a diverse group of stakeholders in the local food systems, from farmers and producers to restaurateurs and consumers. The Farm to School project is aimed at educating Lane County kids about where their food comes from and working to incorporate locally grown produce into the meals served in schools.

As participants of the Farm to School project, students make frequent trips to local farms to learn and see first hand where their food comes from. However, thanks to the recent Anolon donation which included veggie peelers, cooking pots and pans, measuring cups, spoons, and spatulas, students can take this experience one step further. Not only can students see where their food comes from, but learn how to use it as well. From the farms, fresh fruits and veggies are harvested, and eggs gathered. Once in the classroom, students get busy cooking in small groups. By cooking up a snack with the food they’ve harvested themselves, students not only learn valuable lessons on food production and farming, but also tasty ways to use the ingredients they just saw produced.

With help from adult volunteers, kids have whipped up corn cakes with fresh strawberries, green salad with veggies and home-made ranch dressing, and scrambled eggs with sautéed greens. In the fall, the groups will return to the farms to harvest. Plans are being made to extend the repertoire of recipes further and make things like fresh salsa, potatoes with leeks and broccoli, and veggie soup with noodles. Yum.

Having good cooking supplies makes cooking fun and easy and connects kids to the source of their food to inspire healthy eating habits. The next master chef or revolutionary organic farmer just might come from this group of inspired (and full) kids!