Letters to the Editor

Digging in dirt is good for students | Letters | Oct. 15

My grandmother was a lunch lady. In fact she ran the entire cafeteria for the Port Townsend School District, where I grew up. This was in the ‘70s and, come to learn now, Grandma was ahead of her time. She made homemade baking-powder biscuits, real baked chicken and mashed potatoes with real spuds, not from a box.

And her homemade oatmeal raisin cookies had the kids lining up down the hall when they baked.

She would be pleased with what Bainbridge schools are doing this month through a bold, innovative program that puts the “real” back in school lunches.

The school’s food/nutrition department features “Taste of Bainbridge” on October’s menu district-wide, featuring food grown on local farms by student farmers through a program called The Educulture Project.

Led by Jonathon Garfunkel of Global Source Education, an island resident and dad, the program is taking food grown from community land to school district kitchens and onto our kid’s lunch trays.

I had the pleasure of accompanying my son’s fourth grade class (Ms. Watson) from Wilkes Elementary School to the farm to see the corn that they had planted last spring and to harvest potatoes. The saying, “lots of hands make light work” certainly was the case as the kids unearthed over 300 pounds of ruby red, heirloom “romance” potatoes in about an hour.

Eschewing gloves and encouraging the 9- and 10-year-olds to get dirty, Jon said that kids think better when they’ve got their hands in the dirt. (A few got their knees and arms in there, too!)

This past week, kids at Bainbridge schools have been eating fresh corn harvested from the Morales Farm project, and throughout the month kids will enjoy the organic heirloom potatoes that our Wilkes kids dug – “Ozette” potatoes will become creamy potato cheddar and chicken soup. Romance and yellow fin potatoes will become potato wedges and “snowflake” potatoes will be baked.

A recent article in the Seattle Times about bringing local food to school lunch programs doubted that the kids would actually eat the farm-grown food over processed alternatives. My guess is that after getting their hands dirty, and being a part of the process, these kids will.

Thanks to Jonathan Garfunkel for his leadership in this exciting program, and to the school district for opening its kitchen doors to potatoes with a little dirt still on them.

Marianne Lindsey

Parent with kids in BISD

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