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Our Next Taste Test: Rockin’ Roots 435 Oakview Road Decatur, Ga 30030 404.371.1920

Non-Profit Org US Postage PAID Permit # 328 Decatur, GA

This fall’s taste test vegetable – the sweet potato - is already taking root and flourishing in gardens across the district. Planted in May, these tasty tubers take nearly three months to grow big and delicious underground. Sweet potatoes are an easy summer crop that requires very little upkeep, especially with all of this summer’s rain. Ready for harvest in late September, we will let these delicious potatoes cure for a month above ground as their sugars and sweetness develop. October will bring sweet potato taste tests to all of the schools, as students will get to taste the fruits – and roots! – of their labors.

Purpose of newsletter: To keep parents, students, school personnel, community members, and other interested parties informed of the Wylde Center’s Decatur Farm to School programming in the community.

DF2S Donates Two Delicious Books to CSD Early Learning Center and Elementary Schools In conjunction with the fall 2013 planting and subsequent taste tests of sweet potatoes, we are pleased to announce the donation of two books to the CHECLC and CSD elementary schools. DF2S is donating three copies of Little Sweet Potato by Amy Beth Bloom to College Heights ECLC, and three copies of Sweet Potato Pie by Kathleen Lindsey to each elementary school in Decatur. What’s more, Tabitha Wiedower, who is a DF2S committee member and third grade teacher at Glennwood Elementary, has created a teacher’s guide to pair with each book to aid the teachers with incorporating the book in their lesson plans. Teachers will be able to access the guide via our website:

Save the Date! DF2S Fall Dine Out The Fall 2013 DF2S Dine Out is scheduled for Tuesday, October 22nd from 5-9pm. Mark your calendars to support local restaurants and Decatur Farm to School. Stay tuned for a list of participating restaurants.

A special thanks to Little Shop of Stories, who provided the donated books at a discounted rate.

Funds raised by the Dine Outs support taste tests like this one at CHECLC.

Contributors: Caroline Branch, Melanie Heckman, Ana Kucelin, Erin Murphy, Lucia Pawloski, Pam Wilson

Write to us: 435 Oakview Road • Decatur, GA 30030 •

Printing funded in part by Decatur Atlanta Printing.

Healthy Menu Changes in City Schools of Decatur The CSD Nutrition Department is very excited to share some changes that are taking place with our food products, menus, and staff training. During the summer months, we have removed approximately 70 products from our product supply list, which included yellow food coloring, dehydrated au gratin potatoes and scalloped potatoes, vegetable shortening, shrimp poppers, turkey corn dogs, fish nuggets and fish sticks, breakfast bites, breaded beef patty nuggets, and breaded mozzarella sticks. In addition, we have added approximately 50 new items including Greek yogurt, Craisins, falafel, whole grain muffins made without hydrogenated oils, rice pilaf, couscous, sweet potato tater tots made without hydrogenated oils, orzo pasta, quinoa, black bean burgers, whole grain biscuits, peanut-free (soybean) spread, and tofu. We have introduced some of these new items to our staff in the Food Production Course this summer when we tested new recipes. We have trained our 12 kitchen managers on how to clean, prepare, and cook different vegetables and foods that were new to them and to the CSD menu. Some of the recipes tested included Bok Choy Salad, Asian Orzo Salad, Glazed Baby Turnips and Carrots, Tofu Stir Fry, Red Lentil Soup, and Layered Eggplant, Zucchini, and Tomato Casserole. We are planning to continue testing new recipes and conducting taste tests in the cafeteria, while gradually introducing other well-tested recipes on the CSD lunch menus. Another big change that we are planning to implement is making peanut butter sandwiches with honey instead of jelly. We could not find an affordable jam or fruit spread that did not contain high fructose corn syrup, and our solution was to completely eliminate jelly and replace it with honey. We are hoping that the children will not mind the change, as peanut butter sandwiches are a big hit in many schools. Please feel free to give us your feedback at any time! We welcome all comments, suggestions, questions, and concerns.

Thank You Partners Thank you to the City Schools of Decatur for supporting Farm to School initiatives in their schools.

FALL 2013

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Ana Kucelin, MS, RD, LD, Menu and Wellness Specialist for City Schools of Decatur Volunteers, parents and students built raised beds at Clairemont Elementary this past February for their school garden.

While most of us know sweet potatoes as the buttery, syrupy, sugary, marshmallow-laden treat from Thanksgiving dinner, they are actually delicious both sweet and savory, and are full of necessary and beneficial nutrients. A single serving of sweet potatoes can contain nearly 800% of the daily vitamin A critical to good eyesight, bone growth, and healthy function of the immune system and major organ systems! Sweet potatoes are also a great source of potassium, magnesium, and vitamin C. Sweet potatoes were cultivated at least 5,000 years ago, likely in South America, and are now eaten worldwide because of their ease of growth and high nutritional value. Sweet potatoes come in many varieties: purple, yellow, green, pink, and the orange that is most well known in the U.S. We are looking forward to harvesting and tasting these orange delights with Decatur students this fall!

Dear Students, Teachers and Parents, Welcome to the new school year! I serve on the Decatur Farm to School Committee. As part of the Wylde Center, we have partnered with City Schools of Decatur (CSD) to provide Farm to School initiatives to all of our schools since 2009.  We use this newsletter as a way to keep all of our CSD parents and faculty informed about the great programs happening every day in the classroom, in the gardens, in the cafeteria, and in the community.  Our committee is parent, student, and faculty-driven.  One of the big reasons Decatur Farm to School has been a success is because parents like you give his/her talents to the effort.  Interested in becoming involved?  Join the committee, volunteer for a taste test, pull weeds with your child in the gardens, buy a t-shirt, go out for the Dine-out and so much more!  Contact me at to volunteer. For more information, you can find us at Be sure to like us on Facebook, and follow us through Twitter. Here’s to another great year of wonderful food and garden experiences! See you in the garden! Lucia Pawloski, Chair of the DF2S Committee

New Decatur Farm to School Faces

(2013 Summer Interns, Cont’d.)

There are two new faces on the Decatur Farm to School scene, and we are pleased to announce their arrivals! Melanie Heckman started at the Wylde Center in February and Ana Kucelin joined City Schools of Decatur in February.

Nate Scully, 11th grade

As an ecologist with a passion for teaching, Melanie Heckman is thrilled to be joining the Wylde Center as the Education Program Manager. Melanie oversees youth programming for school groups, after school activities, summer camps, and Decatur Farm to School. She also coordinates and teaches the Wylde Center’s environmental education field trips and develops curriculum for all of the education programs. For DF2S, Melanie coordinates the school taste tests, organizes the teacher trainings, and provides managerial support to the new Garden to Classroom program. Melanie is excited to combine her environmental education experience with her love for community gardening, while helping students discover the wonder of the streams and gardens in their own backyards. She said, “Opportunities for environmental education in urban settings are rare, and I am excited to work at the Wylde Center. They make this education about the environment, agriculture, and wellness so immediately accessible to people who otherwise would have little chance to learn about it firsthand.”   Ana Kucelin is the new Menu and Wellness Specialist for the City Schools of Decatur. As a registered dietician with a Masters in nutrition, Ana began working with CSD in February 2013 to evaluate the costs and nutritional contributions of the schools’ menus, as well as ensure they comply with the USDA School Meal Initiative Regulations. In addition, she is working directly with DF2S to help implement our Farm to School initiatives. Ana is excited to be working with DF2S, saying, “Having grown up in rural Croatia where we grew and ate our own fruits and vegetables, I was raised to appreciate the most wholesome and freshest food. I am passionate about Farm to School because I believe that eating unprocessed, fresh, local, and organic food is an important step in fighting childhood obesity, chronic disease, and general mental apathy.”

Internship Placement: Wylde Center at Sugar Creek Garden and Farm Burger. Nate started his summer at Sugar Creek Garden working with all sorts of plants – edible and inedible. At press time, Nate is beginning his restaurant work at Farm Burger. Interests: Agriculture; working outdoors; is considering attending the Agriculture School at Cal Poly Learned at Sugar Creek: “I have learned about biodynamics and what it takes to wake up and work in the dirt every day.” Biodynamic farming is a method of encouraging a self-sustaining ecosystem on the farmland. Crop rotation, irrigation techniques such as rainwater capture, and natural fertilization are among the techniques applied in biodynamic farming, in order to minimize impact and expense and maximize fertility and nutrition of the harvest. Idea for DF2S? “I would like to see fresh local produce in the school cafeteria. It won’t be able to happen every day right away, but the more often the better.” Mohammed Yussef, 10th grade

CSD Awarded the Golden Radish Award On Tuesday March 5, 2013, the City Schools of Decatur was one of 25 school districts presented with a “Golden Radish Award” for successfully completing the Five Million Meals Challenge, a statewide effort to serve more local produce in school cafeterias. CSD Nutrition Director Allison Goodman was at the event at the state capitol to receive the award. Initiated by Georgia Organics and its partners in fall 2012, the Five Million Meals Challenge encourages school systems in Georgia to strive to serve five million meals made with locally grown food in K-12 cafeterias. Goodman confirmed that all schools in the Decatur system participated and averaged 2,000 meals a day during the one-year program. She said, “This challenge reaffirmed our commitment to Farm to School initiatives. It made us aware of other Georgia systems trying to do what we are doing, so we can network and share successes and failures.”

Meet the Decatur Farm to School Summer Interns! Now in its second year, the Decatur Farm to School summer internship program is sponsoring three Decatur High School students to work at local farms, farm-totable restaurants, and the Decatur International Farmers’ Market in order to gain firsthand experience on what it takes to produce, procure, and prepare fresh foods. Based on their field work, these students will provide Decatur Farm to School with their ideas on integrating fresh foods into the school menus and on increasing Decatur Farm to School’s impact at the higher grade levels. The interns receive a stipend in exchange for their site work and contributions to DF2S. You will hear from our interns in their own words later this year, but let us briefly announce this year’s impressive students: McKenzie Rhone, 11th grade Internship Placement: Leon’s Full Service and Love is Love Farm at Gaia Gardens. McKenzie started her summer in the kitchen at Leon’s and at press time is heading to Love is Love Farm, a Decatur farm located at 900 Dancing Fox Road in the East Lake area. Interests: Cooking and studying nutrition Learned at Leon’s: “I have learned so much at Leon`s that it is hard to narrow down one answer. I have learned about health regulations, such as needing to keep raw meat at the bottom of a storage freezer, to how to serve someone food -- and even how to stack glassware on top of your arms to save trips back and forth from the front of the house to the kitchen. I now realize how much prep work the chefs and bartenders have to do -- it’s a lot! I have learned that the restaurant business, or at least Leon`s, is like a family. Everyone helps each other out.” Ideas for DF2S? “I think we really need to get students to do hands-on jobs to actually see the tremendous amount of work that goes into preparing healthy, tasty, and fresh food. I think starting a club at DHS might be a very useful way to do this. There could be after-school trips to farms where students will help with the process of planting, growing, cultivating, and collecting the food that DF2S brings to the cafeterias. Then ideally, having the students help to prepare, cook, and serve the food during lunch time. Instead of bringing DF2S to the students and saying ‘Here, try this,’ it might be more effective to bring the students to DF2S, and have the students see and do the work themselves to bring food to their peers.” (cont’d next page)

Internship Placement: Global Growers Network (GGN) and Decatur International Farmer’s Market (DIFM). Mohammed is our first intern participating in an exciting new partnership with GGN, a nonprofit organization that trains international and refugee farmers now settled in Georgia in the agricultural businesses of growing, harvesting, and selling produce. GGN currently works with over 230 families, and in 2012 these farmers grew 180,000 pounds of produce. Mohammed worked at a GGN farm and also at the GGN table at DIFM. Interests: gardening; hopes to introduce gardening into his local community Learned at GGN and DIFM: “How to harvest and how to plant, which is really amazing… I only knew the names of one or two plants and now I know a lot. The [Wednesday] market is also amazing – I wish I had another day working with Jamie [supervisor] because it is amazing. I actually learned how to do my profits and sell my stuff.” Idea for DF2S? “I want to do a community garden that is right by my school. I want to work with the person that owns the garden. I want to do a personal project at my school – something new that you yourself have to create – I want to do that at my garden, that’s close by me.”

Volunteer Spotlight: Anne-Marie Anderson Anne-Marie Anderson has been volunteering for the last two years with Clairemont Elementary School, where her daughter Scarlett is a rising third grader. Together in consultation with teachers, students, parents, landscaping staff, and DF2S, she helped develop a school garden plan. Last year, parents and students installed the first phase: 12 raised beds that have already been used to grow lettuce and collards for cafeteria tastings, and a composting station, so students can study soil formation and structure, and maybe raise worms as class pets. “As a parent and landscape professional (my business, The Celtic Gardener, helps clients with edible landscaping, chickens, and bees), I can’t think of anything more important than encouraging children to find out how plants grow, where their food comes from, and that it’s OK to get dirty! There’s nothing like planting a seed, watering it, and watching what happens. It’s all a big science experiment, and we learn just as much when something doesn’t grow as when it does. Decatur Farm to School is a real driving force to help local schools maximize their resources, and to provide hands-on assistance and expertise when time and people power are limited. We have a tendency to overcomplicate things, so simple veggie plantings and cafeteria tastings are a fabulous reminder that we can all grow and appreciate healthy, local food.” Anne-Marie first visited the Wylde Center in 2009 to attend ‘Chickens 101’. Four years later, she now teaches that same class, volunteers as Chair of the Urban Coop Tour, is a member of the Bee Team and enjoys taking full advantage of the unrivalled schedule of classes and events.

(Sweet Potato Taste Test cont’d)

Collards a Tasty Success The sweet potato plantings come immediately on the heels of this spring’s collard plantings and taste tests. At the end of May, students from College Heights and Winnona Park harvested and tasted the young, raw collard greens they grew themselves. At College Heights, 98% of students bravely tried the new vegetable, and 78% liked it. Among the students at Winnona Park, 88% of the students tried the collards and 61% of the students liked them. Golden, from Ms. Edwards’ class, exclaimed, “I love this stuff!” while Maya, from Miss March’s class, liked it so much she asked, “Did a professional make this?” In Ms. Tolsman’s class, a full quarter of the class was clamoring for seconds of the tasty greens! With such success, we can’t wait to try the sweet potatoes this fall with even more students!

Are YOU interested in the Summer 2014 DF2S internship? Look for applications this winter!

Nate Scully during his internship at Sugar Creek Garden.

Nichole Lupo, the Wylde Center’s Garden to Classroom Coordinator plants sweet potatoes with students at the College Heights Early Learning Center.

Profile for Stephanie Van Parys

Decatur Farm to School Fall Newsletter 2013  

Purpose of the Decatur Farm to School newsletter: To keep parents, students, school personnel, community members, and other interested parti...

Decatur Farm to School Fall Newsletter 2013  

Purpose of the Decatur Farm to School newsletter: To keep parents, students, school personnel, community members, and other interested parti...