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Georgia Farm to School Summit 2017: Teacher Q & A

Turn out for turnips!

Four City Schools of Decatur teachers received scholarships from Decatur Farm to School to attend the Georgia Farm to School Summit in Augusta, Georgia on October 5-6, 2017. We talked with Laura Pitts, teacher at Winnona Park Elementary School, about her experience at the summit.

Q: What is one thing you plan to take back to your school/classroom and implement? A: Lauren Parks and I were both excited about hydroponics and implementing them at Winnona Park. How cool would it be to have an entranceway to the school with growing food? Also, we studied the watering system at the Country Day School and are determined to improve the access to water for our garden beyond the one rain barrel.

PIctured at the Georgia Farm to School Summit from left to right: Rahfiya Carrion (College Height Early Childhood Learning Center), Laura Pitts (Winnona Park Elementary), Allison Mansfield (Westchester Elementary), and Lauren Parks (Winnona Park Elementary.)

Q: What’s on your wish list? A: In addition to better water access, I would like to see, one day, gardening included as a special class at WP, just like Spanish, P.E., Music, and Art. Many public schools fund similar programs through the PTA, and I think this is worth a discussion with our PTA board and staff. Even if it was only twice a month or something similar to begin with, imagine how wonderful this would be!

Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette by Robert Lupo

Yield: approximately 6 cups

3 cups white wine vinegar 2 tsp. Dijon mustard 2 cups canola oil ½ Tbsp. salt 1 cup olive oil ¼ tsp. black pepper ½ Tbsp. honey 1 head garlic Cut bottom off of garlic head leaving stem to hold all cloves together. Roast cut side down, drizzled with a little olive oil, in a 350F degree oven for 1 hour. Cool and squeeze garlic into blender. Add vinegar and puree. Combine pureed garlic and vinegar and all other ingredients EXCEPT OIL. Mix, place in blender and in batches slowly emulsify both oils. If vinaigrette is too thick, add a Tbsp. or so of water and mix in.

Renfroe Middle School students prepared all of the Swiss chard for the Fall taste test!

About Decatur Farm to School Decatur Farm to School (DF2S) is a Wylde Center program that works to improve nutrition, knowledge of where food comes from, hands-on outdoor education, environmental awareness, and appetite for fresh fruits and vegetables by leading efforts in the classrooms, cafeterias, communities, and gardens of the City Schools of Decatur (CSD). Initiatives of DF2S include summer internships, district-wide taste tests, CSD kitchen staff trainings, conference scholarships for CSD students and teachers, and school garden donations. The DF2S committee is led by parents, teachers, community members, and Wylde staff members, and has been active since 2009.

Thank You Partners

Thank you to the City Schools of Decatur for supporting Farm to School initiatives. Printing funded in part by Decatur Atlanta Printing.


Nichole Lupo, Robert Lupo, Lucia Pawloski, Laura Pitts Karen Riggs, Stephanie Van Parys, Laura Willard Write to us: 435 Oakview Road, Decatur, GA 3003 Follow us online: Facebook: Decatur Farm to School • Twitter: @DecaturF2S • Instagram: DecaturFarmtoSchool


Q: What did you like the most? A: I loved meeting a cross-section of educators and experts from across the state and the country who all are passionate about Farm to School! It was so great to hear about different programs and get ideas on how to expand our gardening initiatives in Decatur.

Volunteers needed for the school-wide taste test on May 3 & 4. Students are sampling hakurei turnips. Sign up here:

Fall Taste Taste Picks a Winner with Swiss Chard

Kale me crazy, but Swiss chard was all the rage for Farm to School in City Schools of Decatur last fall. Plantings at each of the school gardens began early in the school year and culminated in its harvest, prep and taste in November. Unfortunately, our school harvest did not produce enough Swiss chard for our taste test servings…that happens with farming. But special thanks to Joel Allison of the Turnip Truck of Georgia for finding Swiss chard from local farms (Pitch Pine Farm and Crystal Organic Farm) that we could purchase for every child in the district to have a try. Thank you also to John Martin from Whole Foods in Marietta who donated all of the plastic tasting cups.

Even more special…all of the 5000+ tastings were prepared by our very own Renfroe Middle School students!! That’s right, sixth grade International Perspective students practiced their knife and culinary skills by washing, drying, and chopping over 25 pounds of rainbow Swiss chard. The students served it raw, tossing it with a homemade Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette (see recipe on the back page). And the tasting was a success!

The data collected during the taste tests showed that CSD students liked the Swiss chard. Over 68% of those surveyed said they would try it again. A green leafy vegetable, Swiss chard falls between spinach and kale in terms of tenderness and bitterness. In the same family as the beet, Swiss chard distinguishes itself for its stems that come in a rainbow of colors. A good source of vitamins A, C, and K as well as potassium and magnesium, Swiss chard leaves and stems can be eaten raw in salads or cooked.

Decatur Farm to School Volunteer Spotlight Meredith Parks has been a devoted DF2S committee member since 2015, acting as our Merchandise Coordinator. Besides single-handedly managing our t-shirt sales for all the schools, as well as any merchandise request we hurl at her, she dutifully volunteers for our many events. While merchandise coordination may not be the most exciting responsibility, it is one of the most critical. Without our merchandise sales, we could not continue to promote and support our mission. Meredith must understand that, because she commits to every job with professionalism and enthusiasm. Another benefit to having her on the committee - her infectious smile! Thank you, Meredith, for all DF2S Volunteer Meredith Parks and family you do!

Healthier Options Welcomed at Renfroe A lot of things have changed in the CSD nutrition department over the last two decades, and Belinda Mattox has been there to see them all. A big shift is that many more meals are now prepared from scratch, while in years past, kitchen staff relied more on mixes, frozen food, and other prepared items. More fresh fruits and vegetables are offered, such as broccoli and cherry tomatoes with the hummus plate and the salad bar for students who choose the hot meal or pizza line. Belinda Mattox, Renfroe Middle School’s School Kitchen Manager

Belinda is happy with the choices provided by the salad bar.

“I used to worry about the kids coming through the line with just a slice of pizza. Now that they know they can get a salad to go with their pizza, I see them eating more complete and healthy meals.” When one of the newer menu items - kale salad - made its debut, Belinda did not expect it to go over well. In fact, she wasn’t even sure whether she would like it herself, so she was pleasantly surprised that not only did she enjoy it, but so did the kids. Other menu tweaks are subtle, such as changing the cole slaw recipe from using mayonnaise to a lighter vinaigrette dressing or supplementing existing recipes with vegetables. On a recent morning, the kitchen staff worked as fast as they could to keep up with the demand for the egg and sausage breakfast taquitos, now with spinach added! Belinda enjoys the people she works with and the job that they all do. She loves to cook and make food look appetizing, and she says the best part of her job is seeing the kids actually eating the food and not throwing it in the trash.

Belinda says, “I like it when the kids like what I do. It’s one thing for adults to appreciate cooking, but when kids appreciate it, that really makes me happy.”

“I joined DF2S to have the opportunity to make a tangible difference in the schools, including bringing local and sustainable food to all students. I want to support teaching them about the benefits of gardening and supporting local agriculture. Plus, volunteering is a great way to meet people!” ~Meredith Parks

School Garden Update Spring has officially sprung in the City Schools of Decatur. Led by Farm to School Manager Nichole Lupo, the students have been busy in their school gardens and outdoor classrooms. Kindergartners at Oakhurst and Winnona Park studied rocks, soil types, and soil health with worms and compost, and Westchester kindergartners explored living and non-living things while planting their school garden. Second graders at Oakhurst began their Spring expedition, entitled We Are What We Eat, and have had weekly garden lessons on topics such as where our food comes from, how a plant grows, and how keeping our soil healthy helps keep our bodies healthy. Westchester second graders studied Native Americans in our region through the lens of Three Sisters gardens, and Oakhurst third graders took an indepth look at food webs by studying relationships in and around their school garden. Gardens at College Heights, Frasier Center, Glennwood, Oakhurst, Westchester, and Winnona Park have been planted with spring crops such as spinach, parsley, radish, lettuce, and sugar snap peas. Students are working with teachers to water and tend these plants to harvest and taste before the end of the school year.

New Book Donations coming soon to CSD Libraries Twice a year Decatur Farm to School conducts taste tests of a fruit or vegetable for students in City Schools of Decatur. To promote participation in the taste test, it has become a tradition that DF2S donates books to each school library. The books are chosen to highlight the featured vegetable or to support farm to school intiatives in that school. Here are the books chosen for 2017-2018: College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center will receive two copies of Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert. This beautifully illustrated alphabet book introduces kids to new fruits and vegetables. The elementary schools will receive two copies each of The Curious Garden by Peter Brown. It is a magical story about a young boy who discovers a patch of wildflowers growing on an abandoned railway. When the boy cares for the wildflowers, they begin to thrive and transform the city. The book selected for 4/5 Academy is Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots: Gardening Together with Children by Sharon Lovejoy. A compact treasury of gardening lore, tips, and ideas for adults to share with children. What sets it apart from other how-to books on the subject is Lovejoy’s artistic, whimsical, holistic approach. The donation of books each year to our schools has become a beloved tradition. We are happy to provide supplementary reading to the schools for both the teachers and the students to enjoy.

During our Spring Dine Out on April 11, restaurants across Decatur donated a portion of their proceeds to the Wylde Center Decatur Farm to School program. Thank you to all of the volunteers who sold raffle tickets and merchandise and to the following restaurants for their participation: Arepa Mia, Big Tex, Brick Store Pub, Butter and Cream, Cakes & Ale, Calle Latina, Chai Pani Decatur, Farm Burger Decatur, Kimball House, Leons FullService, Mojo Pizza N Pub, My Parents' Basement, Oakhurst Market, Raging Burrito & Taco, Sapori di Napoli, Scout, Steinbeck's, The Imperial, The Marlay House, Twain's Brewpub & Billiards, Universal Joint, and Wahoo! Grill

Decatur Farm to School Strikes Again! Many thanks to The Comet Pub & Lanes for hosting a February dine out and bowl night to benefit DF2S. Friends of DF2S and the Wylde Center were on hand to sell DF2S merchandise and bowl for broccoli!

Thank you for supporting Decatur Farm to School.

Spring 2018 Decatur Farm to School Newsletter  
Spring 2018 Decatur Farm to School Newsletter