Harmony Elementary / Salmon Creek Middle School: Occidental

Salmon Creek has become a true model for transitioning their school lunch into healthy fresh meals with less processed foods. Last year, with the help of an SGN mentor, they expanded their garden space and are growing more food for their salad bar and school lunch program. They connected with a local farm and are supplementing their salad bar with locally grown vegetables. Their goal is to keep up with production from the garden and increase student participation in school lunches and salad bars.

A fruit orchard, habitat and fairy gardens, strawberry patches, medicinal and culinary herbs, tea garden, gourd tunnels and production beds make up this one-acre garden. With the help of classroom teachers, assistants and volunteers, K-5 students study science and nutrition in the garden once per week during fall and spring.

From the straw bale kitchen, the garden education coordinator shows young children how to “eat from the rainbow”, using color to associate certain foods with healthy body parts. Older students consider what food is in season and why it’s important to support family farmers. Students make sprout wraps, garden sushi, fava bean and kale stir-fry and strawberry smoothies. They get excited about growing their own fruits and vegetables, experiencing the full cycle of life from planting to harvest, and eating the delicious foods they’ve grown.

The SGN Salad Bar grant (2009-2011) has enabled the school to offer a salad bar that includes daily organic baked potatoes and organic greens from the school’s production beds. The Wellness Committee has been actively engaged in transforming the school lunch program to include more local, seasonal, organic produce. Weekly garden-based meals called “Homegrown Lunches” are also offered in the new cafeteria. Skills-based nutrition education called “Nourishing Choices” is integrated in K-8. Newsletters about the garden program, cooking/nutrition news and recipes inform parents and volunteers.