Twenty cubic yards of organic compost has been spread on the garden boxes behind Harper Junior High School, thanks to a donation by Northern Recycling Compost in Zamora and Napa Recycling Waste Service. The garden boxes are used in the school curriculum and rented to parents of students. Eventually, they may be made available to those on the waiting list for the Davis Community Gardens. Courtesy photo


Farm to school goes countywide

By Dorothy Peterson

The Yolo Farm to Fork Foundation has attracted four major supporters over the past year to bolster efforts to expand the farm-to-school message from Davis into schools throughout Yolo County.

Yolo County Agriculture Commissioner John Young has encouraged the Yolo Farm to Fork Foundation to take the garden, recycle and nutrition programs countywide this fall. Environmental and nutritional education is the message that will be provided to students. Many of the working elements of the Davis Farm to School Programs will be provided to the rest of the Yolo County schools for replicating where it works for them.

Foundation president John Mott-Smith successfully recruited representatives from throughout the county to join the organization’s board. Six new members sharing their time, talents and energies are Marianne Ferrendelli of the Plainfield Elementary area, Alicia Cruz of the Washington Unified School District, Carol Barsotti of Farm Fresh to You, Lisa Gaynes of Winters, Suzanne Falzone of Woodland and Ruth Coleman of Davis.

The first strong supporter from past years accepted the ambitious expansion challenge without hesitation. Nugget Markets have joined the Davis Farm to School matching grant garden grant program by choosing the top four of the most innovative school garden applications to receive an added $250 atop whatever other funds are awarded.

Next year, the Stille family business will consider all school garden applicants in Yolo County. This clearly takes best practices of a successful school garden program into another dimension and supports efforts to create sustainable gardens at school sites. Any interested school in Yolo County will be invited by Yolo Farm to Fork to apply along with the Davis schools this fall.

The second supporter over the years has been Davis Waste Removal. Over the past 12 years, DWR has helped DavisRISE (Recycling is Simply Elementary) cut the solid waste bill in the schools by more than 50 percent. This past year, all of the elementary schools have joined with DWR in developing a sustainable food waste composting program. Each elementary site now produces only half a garbage can of garbage per day at lunch.

These efforts will expand to the secondary schools this fall. DWR has saved the Davis school district thousands of dollars of garbage fees this past year. Other schools in the county will be encouraged to replicate the DavisRISE program to save money at their sites as well.

The third partner is new: National University has joined the farm-to-school efforts by agreeing to purchase nutritionally approved lunches from the Davis school district’s Nutrition Services Department for students, teachers and parents during their second-grade farm visits.

Their wish is to show students that seasonal, local and farm-fresh food can be creatively and deliciously prepared. National University has agreed to develop with Yolo Farm to Fork three other opportunities that will expand the program into the county.

The fourth and newest partner, joining just this past month, is Northern Recycling Compost Zamora and Napa Recycling Waste Service. Greg Kelly made this free compost offer after learning that all the Davis schools have gardens and use them in creative ways to supplement the school curriculum.

All gardeners know that good compost is like gold and, next to water, is the most critical element for organic gardens. This compost is certified organic. Most of the school gardens have compost sources, but after every growing season, the gardens needs to be refreshed and energized. This company has made dreams come true for the 2013 summer plantings.

The compost is offered for free and is being delivered to Davis school garden leaders who request it. Once a stable delivery program is in place, Kelly has agreed to work through Yolo Farm to Fork Foundation to deliver compost to other school gardens throughout Yolo County.

Watch Yolo Farm to Fork carefully over the next five years. We will know we have succeeded when we have created or assisted in the creation of a farm-to-table culture in the community, including and understanding an appreciation for where food comes from (farms); how it gets to us (to); how to choose, purchase, prepare and enjoy food (table); and how to care for the environment and complete the farm-to-table cycle (recycle, reuse and compost).

Every member of the public is welcome to join with us to achieve this vision. More can be learned about these efforts by visiting our websites: www.yolofarmtoforkwww.davisfarmtoschool.org and www.DavisRISE.org.

— Dorothy Peterson, a retired Davis teacher and longtime school garden advocate, chairs Yolo Farm to Fork’s Davis Farm to School Committee.

Special to The Enterprise

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