This is our first post, but is by far, not our first action in creating a healthier, more locally connected food and wellness culture in Dexter Community Schools. Here’s a sampling of what teachers, food service staff, parents, and community members have been up to in the past few years and what we hope to achieve in the future . . .
Local Food in School Lunch
Dexter schools Food and Nutrition staff have worked with three local farms in the past to source items for school lunches that include locally grown apples, potatoes, and asparagus. A grant from Whole Foods facilitated the implementation of salad bars in Dexter cafeterias. Dexter F&N staff have made many other changes to improve the nutrition and quality of school lunches over the past few years, some of which are mentioned in this article!
Our Farm to School Coordinator is working in cooperation with the dedicated Food and Nutrition staff and Director, Sara Simmerman, to increase the number of local farms that provide fresh food to Dexter Schools, while also increasing kids’ interest in and understanding of fresh, healthy foods, especially those that are grown and produced in our region.
We hope that one day Dexter school cafeterias will enjoy the same benefits of successful farm to school programs such as those in Vermont, Georgia, Minneapolis, MN, Boston, MA, and more. Check out this video to see what things look like in Minneapolis Public Schools . . .
Creekside Intermediate School Garden
The Creekside Garden was started by teachers and paraprofessionals at the grade 5-6 school in 2011 with the help and support of many in the community. See photos of kids and teachers in the garden and kitchen here!
The garden currently has 8 raised beds located just outside the Kitchen Classroom where students learn about cooking skills and healthy nutrition. We are working on expanding the garden, installing an outdoor classroom, and working with teachers at Creekside to refine lessons in the garden and kitchen that connect to their core curriculum.
We envision a school culture at Creekside in which the garden is a key tool that teachers across the curriculum utilize for hands-on, meaningful learning.
Sullivan Memorial Learning Garden at DHS
DHS Sullivan Memorial Learning Garden was started in 2011 by a group of parents, teachers, and community members in Dexter Schools dedicated to the legacy of Kevin Sullivan. The garden’s Mission Statement is:
The Dexter High School Learning Garden will provide students with a connection to healthy food, self-reliance, career pathways, and a connection to each other and our Dexter agricultural heritage. it will be a lasting tribute to Kevin Sullivan: DHA dad, gardener, cook, and friend.
Currently, there are 6 raised beds at the school, just outside the food lab classroom, and adjacent to the greenhouse classroom, all of which are assets that teachers can utilize to teach their curriculum through hands on experiences with food, plants, and the outdoors. We are working to re-energize a group of parents and teachers at DHS who would like to help maintain and expand the garden and its use in the school day. If you’d like to be a part of this effort, contact us at DexterFarmtoSchool@gmail.com
The short-term vision for this garden includes the realization of a professional landscape design that includes permaculture elements, season extension tools, and art in the garden.
Chef to School
Chef Alex Young of Zingerman’s Roadhouse and Cornman Farms has partnered with Dexter Schools by hosting local food tastings in the cafeterias, teaching about cooking in the Creekside Kitchen classroom, serving in an advisory capacity for food and nutrition staff, and is a key asset to the Annual Soup Supper Fundraiser for the Creekside garden.
Alex Young will partner will us again for the Fall Soup Supper Fundraiser, which will be on October 24th this year! Mark your calendars!
We envision an integrated relationship with local chefs and farmers, bringing them into classrooms and cafeterias to help us generate a closer connection to our food. The Chefs Move to Schools Program is a national network that seeks to help groups like ours achieve this vision. Watch this video to see what it looks like!