Cedar Lane and Sugarland Receive Grants for School Gardens

Last month, Cedar Lane Elementary and Sugarland Elementary were the recipients of grants to help support their school garden efforts.  These grants were made possible by the Northern Virginia Dietetic Association (NVAND).  Each school received $100 from the organization.

These schools were selected from 12 applicants in the Northern Virginia region.  Each school submitted a detailed application where they had to describe the educational purpose and goals of their gardens while also discussing the impact and outcomes their garden had on the students and community.  Each application was ranked and voted on by board members of NVAND.

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NVAND President, Teresa Lucas and Sugarland Garden Coordinator, Darielle Timothy

Sugarland uses their school garden to help students learn the role they play in both the community and as health ambassadors.  The garden coordinators help students understand that growing nutritious foods can be done regardless of ones income level.  They focus on inquiry-based learning and real world problem solving so that students can understand how gardens directly relate to their lives; such as the garden to cafeteria initiative.  They develop consistent schedules for the garden so that each grade has responsibilities relating to the project.

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NVAND President Teresa Lucas and the Cedar Lane staff

 

Cedar Lane currently uses their garden to help their Autism classes learn curricular skills as well as career and working behaviors through garden-based activities.  They able to grow a variety of produce items which helps students become exposed to new foods.  Students learn the importance of following directions and reading recipes, conversational skills and money counting.  The Cafeteria Manager at Cedar Lane assists students with garden-based recipes and taste tests.  Cedar Lane also uses the harvest from their garden to host annual farmer’s markets at the school.  This allows the students to understand the background of having a business.

For more information on the farm to school program or school garden information in Loudoun County, please contact Stefanie Dove, RDN at Stefanie.Dove@LCPS.org or visit www.lcpshealthycafe.org

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Frederick Douglas Students Take A Journey Through The Garden With School Nutrition

fde kinderWhat started out as a rainy day turned into one of sunshine for kindergartners at Frederick Douglas Elementary School as they partook in a special food and nutrition lesson on April 20th. Each student participated in a sensory activity where they used their senses to guess which vegetable was in the mystery bag. As little detectives, the kindergartners described how the vegetable felt, whether it was large, small, hard, soft, or fuzzy and guessed which vegetable it could be. They journeyed through the life cycle of a vegetable plant; starting with a seed, growing to a sprout, and ending with a vegetable. But the journey wasn’t complete without tasting the fruit of gardening.

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The kindergarten classes assembled vegetable boats out of cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, yellow bell peppers, watermelon radishes, and hummus. They loved playing with their food and tasting it too! One of the most common reactions was how they thought a pepper would be spicy, but they were surprised to find the bell peppers are sweet! Other students mentioned how they loved dipping their veggies in hummus for some extra flavor.

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Overall, the cucumber was the crowd favorite, however, the students were open to trying all the vegetables. This supports what current research is stating. Research shows that when children are in  direct exposure of fruits and vegetables it is associated with an increased intake of fruits and vegetables and an increased confidence in trying new ones. This is one of the reasons that over half Loudoun County Public Schools have school gardens. LCPS uses their school gardens as an educational and agricultural resource for their students to become more familiar with fruits and vegetable, to be more willing to eat them, and to teach healthy lifestyle behaviors.

 

For more information on the Farm to School program in Loudoun County or to schedule a nutrition education lesson at your school, please contact Stefanie Dove, RDN and School Nutrition Marketing Coordinator (Stefanie.Dove@LCPS.org).

Loudoun All-Stars to Sign Cards for School Kids

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Loudoun County’s award-winning farmer trading cards are back by popular demand. For the second year, Loudoun elementary school children will receive baseball-style trading cards on Tuesday, April 4th. The cards feature Loudoun County farmers, several of whom will make special appearances at Loudoun elementary schools to autograph cards:

  • Alex Bates, If It Flies Farm – Lucketts Elementary;
  • Sara Brown, Oakland Green Farm – Emerick Elementary in Purcellville;
  • Julie Borneman, Watermark Woods – Waterford Elementary;
  • Adrienne Green, Independence Homestead – Evergreen Mill Elementary in Leesburg;
  • Warren Howell, Allder School Berries – Lovettsville Elementary;
  • John Moore, Temple Hall Farm Park – Frederick Douglass Elementary in Leesburg;
  • Mary Ellen Taylor, Endless Summer Harvest – Balls Bluff Elementary in Leesburg.

“It’s great to have children look up to these successful business owners, who not only contribute to Loudoun’s economy, but also help feed the community,” said Loudoun Economic Development’s Executive Director Buddy Rizer.

“Last year’s farmers were treated like all-stars when they visited the schools,” said Loudoun’s Agricultural Development Officer Kellie Hinkle. “The cards generated so much excitement that local, regional and national media ran stories about them. School systems in other states contacted us to talk about producing trading cards of their own.”

Loudoun Economic Development partners with Loudoun County Public Schools on the cards.

“Our goal is to promote healthy eating, as well as to educate children about the importance of farming and where their food comes from,” said Dr. Becky Domokos-Bays, director of School Nutrition.

The other farmers featured on this year’s cards are Anna and Daniel Cohen of Bay Haven Farm, and John and Joel McClintic of Thousand Hills Farm. Entrepreneurs interested in starting or expanding a farm business in Loudoun can contact Kellie Hinkle by calling 1-(800)-LOUDOUN.

For more information on this promotion or details on the School Nutrition Program in Loudoun County, please contact Stefanie Dove at (571) 252-6502.

School Nutrition Hosts District Wide Taste Test

The Harvest of the Month promotion began last school year and continues to be a popular event at all 87 schools in Loudoun County this year.  This farm to school promotion allows all students in the county to try a new seasonal fruit or vegetable at no cost each month.  Students have been able to try everything from parsnips and tricolor cauliflower to locally grown apples.

The feature item for February is starfruit.  This will be available during lunch to all elementary students on Thursday, February 16th as part of the Taste It Thursday promotion and to all middle and high school students on Friday, February 17th as part of the Fear Factor Friday promotion.

Not only does this promotion help expose students to new food items, it has also turned into a successful collaboration between School Nutrition Services and Monroe Technology graphic arts students.  The students design all of the posters for the events and send them to the schools monthly as their One to the World project.

The School Nutrition staff works closely with the students to discuss themes, design, and the Registered Dietitians work with them to provide interesting facts about each item being featured. These events take place each month.  There is a great lineup for the rest of the school year with blood oranges, watermelon radishes and fresh strawberries being the featured items.

Want to know more about this promotion? Visit your school cafeteria or stop by the School Nutrition website to discover some of the other activities we have going on in our schools.

 

Salad Science Comes to Algonkian and Selden’s Landing

Salad Science partnered with Second and Third grade students at Algonkian and Selden’s Landing Elementary schools this year. Teachers, Mary Carlson and Carrie Mock, served as the lead teachers at each of these schools to help organize the program. This program is divided into three sections, which is part of the Audubon Naturalist Society’s GreenKids program, enables students to grow their own lettuce while learning about edible parts of a plant, plant life cycles, composting, nutrition education, healthy eating, and general gardening skills.

Each phase contains a project-based learning mini-lesson that aligns with Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) that incorporates a hands-on activity. Students did everything from writing journal entries where they recorded observations, made predictions on what would happen in the garden, and enhanced their math skills by charting data about the plants, weather, and precipitation. Classes were responsible for monitoring the garden beds, watering the plants, and tracking the progress of growth.

Students began the program by learning about the edible parts of a plant and planted lettuce seeds. They monitored the plans and thinned the lettuce to discuss and understand how nature recycles plant matter. The Salad Science program ended with students harvesting their lettuces where they participated in a salad party.  Students enjoyed having a taste party with the harvested lettuce along with a rainbow of healthy toppings and dressings.

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The Salad Science program not only allows students to become more empowered when it comes to understanding and growing their own food, it also instills the importance of healthy eating and trying new things. This program helps expand the Farm to School efforts by the School Nutrition Department in the district. As of December 2016, Loudoun County currently has 48% of their schools utilizing schools gardens and nutrition education activities in the classroom.

For more information about the Farm to School or School Nutrition Programs in Loudoun County, please contact Stefanie Dove, RDN at Stefanie.Dove@LCPS.org

School Nutrition Kicks Off One to the World Project at Guilford

Last month, School Nutrition Services partnered with the third grade classes at Guilford Elementary to kick off their One to the World (OTTW) project, “how can we as student chefs be healthy eaters.” Over the next few weeks, students will discuss this topic in depth through a variety of project-based learning assignments that will help them in answering this question.


The students were brought into the cafeteria where they sat down to discuss their new project and participate in an “eating the rainbow” nutrition education lesson that was conducted by Stefanie Dove, Registered Dietitian and School Nutrition Marketing Coordinator with Loudoun County Schools. Students discussed how certain vegetables grow, why the specific colors of fruit and vegetables are beneficial, as well as the importance of eating a variety of fruits and vegetables daily.

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School Nutrition Services Farm to School Coordinator, Jennifer Hein, collaborated with Willowsford Farm, who generously donated over 40 pounds of fresh produce for this taste party. Students were able to try everything from watermelon radishes, purple cabbage, and tricolor carrots to peppers and kale. After the taste test, students then discussed their opinions on the vegetables they tasted while making recommendations for how they could use some of those items in healthy recipes.


The excess produce from the taste party was packaged in the cafeteria at Guilford and distributed to 20 families as part of the Backpack Buddy program. Each bag also contained recipes for the items included in the produce bags so that families were able to prepare those items that were less common.


This taste test was also made possible in part by the USDA Farm to School Planning Grant that Loudoun County School Nutrition Services received earlier this year.
For more information on the Farm to School program or if you are interested in having School Nutrition Services help with a One to the World project in your classroom, please contact Stefanie Dove, RDN, CDN by email at Stefanie.Dove@LCPS.org or by phone at (571) 252-6502.

School Nutrition Announces Farm to School Art Contest Winners

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School Nutrition Services kicked off National Farm to School Month in October with their first annual art contest. The theme for the 2016 contest was “What Farm to School Means to Me.” The contest was open to all Loudoun County students’ grades K-12. There were 75 entries in the contest from grades K-8 only. All entries went through a preliminary judging and the top 14 were then submitted for the final judging by an esteemed panel of judges where all student and school identifying information was omitted from the entries.

Grand Prize winner: Parnika S., Mercer Middle School, 8th Grade

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Elementary Winners:
Craftsmanship: Abigail K., Madison’s Trust Elementary, 2nd Grade

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Visual Impact: Ashley S., Lowes Island Elementary, 4th Grade

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Interpretation and Creativity: Ishaan D., Meadowland Elementary, 2nd Grade

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Honorable Mention: Katelyn M., Kenneth Culbert Elementary School, 5th Grade

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Middle School Winners:
Interpretation & Creativity: Charly B., Trailside Middle School, 6th Grade

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Visual Impact: Parnika S., Mercer Middle School, 8th Grade

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Craftsmanship: Samah N., Mercer Middle School, 6th Grade

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Composition and Design: Zoe L., Eagle Ridge Middle School, 7th Grade

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Honorable Mention: Anaghasree H., Stone Hill Middle School, 8th Grade

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The grand prize winner will have their artwork featured on Loudoun Farm Tour marketing materials for the spring 2017 season. The individual winners in both elementary and middle school will have their artwork developed into posters that will be displayed in the cafeteria at their individual schools. All participants will receive a certificate of participation in the art contest.
Loudoun County Public Library has also agreed to feature the student entries at various locations. The dates and locations for these exhibits will be announced in January, 2017. The artwork will also be featured on School Nutrition Services website http://www.lcpshealthycafe.org.
The judges for the art contest were:
Dr. Becky Domokos-Bays, RDN, SNS
Supervisor, School Nutrition Services
Loudoun County Public Schools

Kellie Hinkle
Agricultural Development Officer
Loudoun Economic Development

Cassie Walls
Rural Business Development Assistant
Loudoun Economic Development

Chris VanVlack
President of the Board
Loudoun County Farm Bureau

Lorraine Moffa
Library Aide
Loudoun County Public Library

Stephanie Kehoe
Art Teacher
Stone Hill Middle School

If you have any questions or comments regarding this contest, please contact Stefanie Dove by email at Stefanie.Dove@LCPS.org or by phone at (571)252-6502.

This promotion was made in part by the USDA Farm to School Planning Grant.