Farm to School is a nationwide movement to enrich the connection between communities and their local foods. Nutrition education, school gardens, and procurement of local foods for school meals are a few of the delicious ways we aim to nourish our community's wellness, economy, and environmental stewardship. Explore the pages here to find fun take-home activities, virtual field trips, school garden information, and much more!
Dane County Late Winter Farmers Market
February 2023 Newsletter
Spotlight: Locally Sourced Beef and Yogurt for OSD Meals!
Thanks to the efforts of the OSD Farm to School Program, ground beef used in school meals is sourced from Greenfield Farm in Iowa County, less than an hour from our schools.
Farm Spotlight: Greenfield Farm is owned and operated by the Gruenenfelder family (pictured below). Their first generation farm began as a dairy cow operation, but they have recently started raising pigs, cows, and other animals for meat as well. Jason and Kris Gruenenfelder are committed to sustainability in their agricultural practices. They have worked over the last few years with the National Resource Conservation Service to transition to regenerative grazing for their animals. This method helps to build soil and store carbon, as well as keeping the animals happy and free to roam. They are also big believers in our Farm to School and local food goals, and are excited to be providing local food for school meals. They already work with other regional school districts to provide local protein to kids, and we are happy that they will be working with us as well! In a few weeks, the Farm to School team will have the opportunity to visit Greenfield Farm and learn more about their operation. We will take notes and videos and share them with students so that they can get to know the people and processes that bring food to their lunch trays.
All About Beef: Our new weekly deliveries of ground beef from Greenfield Farm will play an important role in the meals and nutrition of Oregon students. Ground beef is used in a number of different school meals week to week. Meals made from scratch in our kitchens that will now include Greenfield Farm’s ground beef include the Sloppy Joe, Beef Tacos, Breadsticks with Italian Meat Sauce, and the Homemade Lasagna. In these meals, Greenfield Farm’s ground beef will serve as an important source of protein, which helps build muscle and keep kids energized and focused throughout the day. It also is a good source of iron, which supports red blood cell growth, as well as B vitamins and zinc which keep the immune system healthy.
Local Yogurt in America's Dairyland:
Farm to school has been hard at work after the introduction of local beef into school lunches earlier this fall, and we have another local food addition to report!
Yogurt at school breakfasts and lunches will now be sourced locally from Odyssey Brands. Odyssey is part of the Klondike Cheese Company, a 3rd generation business located in Monroe, Wisconsin, which also sources dairy from nearly 100 local Wisconsin farmers. The company makes various types of cheese, dips, and yogurt, but when they started producing 4 oz yogurt cups they reached out to OSD to see if we could use them in that size. Of course we were interested: their yogurt is award-winning and the new 4 oz yogurt cups are perfect for school meals. We are so excited to be working with them and getting delicious, local yogurt to our students starting on January 18th, 2022!
AmeriCorps Service Story
Oregon School District
Quarterly Service Story
By: Michelle Naragon
Quarter one at Oregon School District was filled with amazing memories and making an effort to have a positive impact on the students. During the month of September, my fellow AmeriCorp Farm to School Specialist, Rebekah, and I brainstormed what community events, national days to celebrate, schools to impact, and what goals we wanted to work toward during our time at Oregon School District. Once teachers were in their class routine, Rebekah and I began the process of reaching out to teachers to attend the classroom to educate the children about nutrition. One local taste test was completed during the month at Brooklyn Elementary with local heirloom tomatoes. It was enjoyable to see the childrens’ surprise when they saw the yellow and red/green striped tomatoes.
The month of October was centered around celebrating the Great Apple Crunch and attending classrooms to educate students about the benefits of apples. Students were educated about different varieties of apples as well. Rebekah and myself reached out to local apple orchards to have local apples available on the menu for the month and for students to crunch during lunch on October 13th. During the week of the Great Apple Crunch, we did a local apple taste test at Forest Edge to show children the differences between two apple varieties and explain the benefits of apples. A story about the Great Apple Crunch was shared in the Oregon Observer to highlight AmeriCorps participation in schools and how local foods are being incorporated into the school lunch menu.
In the beginning of November, Rebekah and I hosted a food drive with Brooklyn, Forest Edge, and Netherwood Knoll Elementary. All of the collected food was donated to the Oregon Area Food Pantry (OAFP). A total of 1,074 lb of food was donated, which was one of the largest donations received by OAFP. After the Thanksgiving break, a virtual cooking club was started to educate children how to cook, what foods in the selected recipe are grown in Wisconsin, and build more confidence in the kitchen. This virtual education has been so much fun and it is great seeing children cooking/baking in their own kitchens!
Rebekah and I are continuing to focus on the virtual cooking club during the month of December, along with attending classrooms to educate about how to build healthy habits, and do local taste tests. During the first full week of December, we did a taste test with fresh cranberries and dried craisins to show children how food processing techniques can cause a fruit to look and taste very different. In the middle of the month, we will be doing a taste test with rainbow carrots to educate children carrots are not always orange and can come in a variety of different colors. Also, Squashington Farms visited a classroom at Brooklyn Elementary to educate students about what a farmer’s role is, what a CSA is, and how to support local farmers and CSA programs. The children truly enjoyed a new visitor and asked so many amazing questions.
The last portion of the quarter will be spent reaching out to teachers at Forest Edge to see if they would like to be involved in the school garden once spring arrives. Also, Rebekah and I will be building nutrition education materials and setting up times to visit more classrooms.
Although it feels at times as if ‘nothing’ is being accomplished at Oregon School District, it is always helpful to take a step back and recognize the work we both have been contributing to and how it is impacting the students.
AmeriCorps Service Story
Oregon School District
Quarterly Service Story
It is hard to encapsulate over four months of service into a few short paragraphs, but the common theme that comes to mind when I think of what quarter one has meant to me is: possibility. Starting the first quarter of service, I had no idea what to expect. I have served with other AmeriCorps programs previously but was never given such as much freedom to choose the ways in which I serve.
During the first month of service, my mind was constantly going in every direction. We could do this, or this, or that… it never ended. My fellow Farm to School Specialist, Michelle, & I bounced idea after idea off one another. It seemed like the options in which ways we could serve were endless. The options quickly caught up to me though and I began to stress out. We could never accomplish everything we brainstormed and the thought of not doing enough really bothered me. Farm to School is such an amazing opportunity, not only for me, but also for the community, and I wanted to make sure I did justice to the opportunity I was given to enrich the community through such a meaningful program. I continued planning, hosting taste tests, and teaching nutrition lessons, and all the while had the thought that I was not doing enough in the back of my head.
Fast forward a couple of months and I have settled into the position. I have set clearer expectations for myself, I have formed relationships within the school, and most importantly, have interacted with countless students. It is within those interactions that I am fueled and see the endless possibilities not as daunting, but exciting. I love seeing the joy on students' faces when they try new food and love it. Or curiosity as they explore new food and decide that maybe it isn't their favorite. I love exposing children to nutrition lessons and giving them the knowledge to make informed choices when it comes to their health and nutrition. For example, Michelle and I taught a lesson about creating healthy habits and it is one of my favorite memories of quarter one. All of the students were engaged in the conversation but I could tell that for one student, in particular, it really clicked and within 30 minutes the way she spoke about food had changed. It is my hope that through Farm to School I am able to reach as many students as possible and that they have similar “aha” moments. Whether that be about buying local produce, incorporating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables into their diet, becoming passionate about gardening, etc. The possibility of witnessing a similar moment again gets me excited to serve every day.
As I am writing this, I am looking back and reflecting on what we have accomplished within the Oregon School District. I am really proud of the work Michelle and I have done, thankful to the staff that has opened us into their kitchens, schools, & classrooms, and excited about the upcoming months. It is also a time to center myself and my goals for the rest of the year and start planning for what is coming next. We have plans to work on the school gardens, implement composting at FES, continue teaching nutrition-based lessons, and continue running our cooking club. I am excited to see what the next quarter brings.
OREGON SCHOOL DISTRICT
QUARTERLY SERVICE STORY
Here in Oregon we’ve had a busy start to the school year: nutrition lessons in classrooms, virtual cooking clubs for kids, garden harvests, and cleaning up gardens for winter. Some of our biggest successes this fall, however, have been in local food procurement for school meals and taste tests.
In September, we connected with Raleigh’s Hillside Farm of Brodhead, Wisconsin to bring in fresh, fall-harvested yellow peppers as a vegetable option at lunch. Crunchy, sweet peppers were available at all of our schools. At Forest Edge Elementary, AmeriCorps Farm to School Specialist Isabel Greene spent the lunch hour chatting with the kids about what the peppers tasted like and where they came from - less than an hour’s drive away! No matter the time of year, talking about delicious food and healthy habits is always in season.
Golden bell peppers from Raleigh’s Hillside Farm in Brodhead, Wisconsin.
Starting in late September, our schools began sourcing local beef from Greenfield Farm in Iowa County, about an hour from Oregon. The farm is family owned and operated, raises grass-fed cows, along with other animals, and uses sustainable grazing practices that sequester carbon from the atmosphere. Ground beef from Greenfield Farm is now used in four different school lunch recipes that are in common rotation on the menu.
A student at Brooklyn Elementary takes a bite from an apple grown at Eplegaarden in Fitchburg, Wisconsin during the Great Lakes Great Apple Crunch.
One of the many challenges the global pandemic has presented is disruption of critical supply chains - including food. According to School Nutrition Director Sarah Tomasiewicz, “Supply chain issues have significantly affected how food gets from the producers, to the distributors, and then to us.” However, these shortages present a unique opportunity for local producers to get in the game with school districts. Working directly with local farms provides not only a reliable supply and more flexibility, but also the opportunity to introduce students to the foods that grow near their communities and the idea of ‘eating with the seasons’. Some of our favorite seasonal foods Oregon students have tried this year are apples, purple radishes, cranberries, and more!
It’s Alive! Purple daikon radishes are ready to go for a lunchtime taste test.
Outside of the cafeteria, lots of great Farm to School things are growing too. Schools have been harvesting the last of their gardens (cabbage, kale, and pumpkins… oh my!) and putting the gardens to bed for the winter by removing weeds, turning the soil, and adding an insulating layer of compost or cardboard. But the gardening doesn’t stop there - indoors, 6th grade students have set up and are now managing a hydroponic grow tower. In the tower, the students are growing salad greens, tomatoes, and even strawberries. According to one student, “if we have a good harvest of lettuce, we’d like to bring it to the kitchen so they can use it for our lunches.”
In the new year, we will continue to increase the menued local foods in our schools. In January, we will begin serving local yogurts at school breakfasts from Odyssey Brands, a part of the Klondike Cheese Company located in Monroe, Wisconsin. The yogurt will also eventually be added to lunch menus to increase student opportunities to try it and enjoy a nutritious treat from ‘America’s Dairyland’.
As 2021 comes to an end, we are grateful for the nutrition staff, teachers, farmers, Serve Wisconsin team, and community members that make Farm to School possible in Oregon. Thank you for helping to cultivate relationships between school communities and our local farmers.
6th grade students pose with the new grow tower after setting it up and planting a variety of foods.
Isabel Greene and Maddie Smith, AmeriCorps
Farm to School Specialists
Meet the Farm to School Team:
Degrees and Certifications:
School Nutrition Director
Hello, I’m Sarah, the School Nutrition Director for OSD. Food helps us grow, think, and experience the world. I think it is important to serve healthy meals that feature local produce as well as fruits and vegetables grown in our school gardens. When we see our food grow, we can understand the power it has in our bodies. Food is also fun, playing with your food is an exciting way to feel connected to what you are eating. I often create pictures with my food- it just tastes better when my fruit salad looks like a smiling sun.
*PS: This is a picture of me with my dog, named Rutabaga. His name comes from the root vegetable - rutabaga. The vegetable is known for keeping your heart healthy and your bones strong. Rutabaga and I go on many hikes, so he is helping me stay healthy just like the vegetable.
Degrees and Certifications:
AmeriCorps Farm to School Specialist
Hello, my name is Michelle Naragon. I recently graduated with my master’s in clinical nutrition with an emphasis in food systems from the University of Wisconsin Madison. Food has always been a tool to bring people together throughout my life. As a child I would watch my mom prepare all of her meals and baked goods from scratch and travel to local farms to purchase produce and commodities. Once I reached my adolescent years, my dad had me help him care for his orchard and garden. Seeing where my food came from a young age empowered me to make healthy choices and recognize the importance of supporting local farmers when possible.
Serving as an AmeriCorp Farm to School Specialist enables me to share my passion for gardening, healthy eating, and nutrition with our future’s leaders to ensure they recognize the power of healthy food choices as for them and the importance of supporting and choosing local foods when possible. Throughout my time with OSD, I hope to encourage children to try new foods, learn about nutritious foods, and get their hands dirty by caring for the garden.
Degrees and Certifications:
AmeriCorps Farm to School Specialist
Hi, my name is Rebekah Herring! I am a new F2S member in OSD. I have my bachelors degree in Studies in Education with an emphasis in Early Childhood Ed. After graduating I served with another AmeriCorps program, City Year, in Metro Detroit as a peer mentor & tutor. I grew up in a small town full of nature & wildlife, which played a huge roll through out my childhood. Some of my fondest memories while growing up include working in the garden with my parents, going for nature walks along the Horicon Marsh, and my mom teaching me how to cook delicious, homemade food.=
I am passionate about working with youth and serving with the AmeriCorps F2S program will allow me to provide nutrition education, encourage students to make healthier decisions, and get involved with my students' families and community. It is my hope that throughout this year students try new foods and activities, learn more about where their food comes from, and overall feel a sense of empowerment from their newfound knowledge in all things food and gardening!