Last Friday, 31 Jackson County school nutrition staff, including Jackson County School Nutrition Director Debra Morris and Commerce City Schools Nutrition Director Susan Harvin, visited three farms interested in selling to the schools next year.
All three of the farmers we visited attended a Farmers’ Forum earlier this month to discuss specific products they could provide the schools. This field trip allowed the school nutrition directors to get out and see the farms, meet the farmers on their turf, and see their growing practices for themselves. For the managers, it let them put a face to the new food that will be rolling in the door when school starts back up in the fall. (To see more photos from the trip, check out our Facebook photo album!)
The first stop was R2 Farm in Winder, owned by Todd McCain. R2 is a small farm, but Todd has big plans. We met his chickens, goats, and horses, and saw his vegetables and fruit trees. We and Todd are especially excited about his bell peppers. He’s growing green, yellow, orange, red, purple, and white peppers! (Two school folks decided they wanted to return when the peppers are ready and make a Red, White, and Purple Pepper Salad for the 4th of July.)
Next we visited Cass Fraunfelder and Finch Creek Farm, also in Winder. Cass walked us through his fields, describing what is currently growing, and what is getting in the ground soon. The sweet potatoes and watermelons are looking great! Cass explained some of his organic growing methods, including trap crops and cover cropping. He also let us taste two kinds of lettuce, some kale, and arugula.
Finally, we moved on to Commerce to visit Bouchard Farm. Farm staff had harvested and prepared a super-fresh salad for us, including peppers, peas, tomatoes, and broccoli—all from their greenhouses! We rode a hay wagon around the farm and got to meet some of their grazing cows and their resident emu. We also got a good look at their vegetable fields and farm manager Adam explained the farm’s growing processes and post-harvest handling.
One of the main purposes of farm to school is to teach children where their food comes from. With this field trip, we showed the adults as well! Next year, when more local, whole produce is delivered to school kitchens, the folks preparing it will know who grew it and exactly how far it traveled. For now, though, these visitors now want to be farm customers! Each farmer was asked where they sell and school nutrition staff have plans to visit their local farmers markets to support their new farm friends.