What is winter good for? Harvest of the Month Taste Tests, of course! Many schools in and around Vermont offer monthly taste tests in order to engage students in the cooking and tasting of new foods. The goal of the Harvest of the Month program is to “promote seasonal eating, encourage healthy diets and support the local economy.” At some schools, educators partner with cafeteria staff to prepare and serve the taste test. At others, samples are prepared and served by students.
Student gardeners at Riverside Middle School keep busy during the winter months by coordinating monthly taste tests for their peers. Each month, they feature a different VT Harvest of the Month product, including kale, sweet potatoes, and winter squash this fall. These students make up the after-school garden club/summer camp, Lettuce Grow Food. In addition to coordinating taste tests during the school year, they also grow food during the spring and summer that is then featured at Riverside’s annual Back to School BBQ. Other products from the garden are shared with community members in need.
Due to their continued commitment to local food and nutrition education, Riverside Middle School received a 2-year Farm to School grant from the VT Agency of Agriculture Food & Markets last school year. This funding will allow them to accomplish a number of Farm to School goals, including:
Expanding the school’s composting program
Professional development for all staff
Integration of food system curricular units in the classroom
Increasing the amount of local food being used in the school’s cafeteria
Thanks to Corrinne Kanser, Becca Osborn, Becca Polk, Cliff Weyer, Nate McNaughton and Martha Tarbell for their work in implementing these goals at Riverside!