October is Farm-to- School Month!

As we enter the season of apple cider, pumpkin pie and soups made with delicious root
vegetables, Hudson Valley Seed and the Beacon City School District are excited to celebrate local food production as a part of National Farm-to- School Month!

In 2010, Congress designated October to be Farm-to- School Month in order to recognize and
support the efforts of students, educators, parents, nonprofit partners and farmers who have
worked together to bring healthy, locally-grown food to schools in their communities. According to data collected by the National Farm-to- School Network, there are nearly 43,000 schools in the U.S. that participate in some type of farm-to- school activities, which included nearly $800 million in spending on local food for school cafeterias in the 2013-14 school year!

In Beacon, school district spending on local food has already reached $11,000 in the first few
weeks of September, which includes purchasing of local broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower,
celery, cucumbers, romaine and green leaf lettuce, Spanish and red onions, green and red
peppers, potatoes, scallions, apples, watermelon and dairy products!

To continue this emphasis on farm-to- school efforts, October will be full of various hands-on,
educational activities, with the help of our community partners:

During their weekly Hudson Valley Seed garden time lessons, each 2nd grade class at all nine of our schools (in Newburgh, Beacon, and Garrison) will get a visit from a local farmer to talk about growing food in the Hudson Valley.

Some students in the Beacon Recreation Department’s after school program will set up Crop
Shops (small farm stands) outside of three of the elementary schools in October and November to sell produce from the school gardens and a few local farms to parents and community members on the following dates:

  • October 6 & 13 - South Ave. Elementary
  • October 20 & 27 - Sargent Elementary
  • November 3 & 11 - J.V. Forrestal Elementary

On Thursday, October 19, all Beacon elementary schools will participate in the Big Apple Crunch, joining millions of New Yorkers in taking a bite out of a New York State apple.

All schools have been encouraged to decorate the front of their buildings with local food
products - corn stalks, pumpkins, squash, and the like.

Over the next few weeks all of our students will be tasting and learning about bok choy, October’s featured vegetable. The Vegetable of the Month program brings a different locally-produced vegetable into school through a partnership with school cafeterias, Common Ground Farm, and Hudson Valley Seed. The students who participate in Hudson Valley Seed’s weekly garden education program taste the raw vegetable during their classes, then all students in participating schools (including all of Beacon!!) taste the vegetable in featured dishes in the school cafeteria throughout the month. This boosts kids’ access to fresh foods, increases their willingness to eat new veggies, and helps shift institutional spending towards supporting local farms.

We also encourage parents and guardians to tour a local farm, go apple picking, and visit the Beacon Farmer’s Market on Sundays from 10am-3pm at Veterans Place, next to the post office, the Newburgh Downing Park Farmer’s Market on Saturdays from 10am-3pm, or your closest source of local food during this harvest season!

We here at Hudson Valley Seed are so grateful to have such a great collaborative relationships with Karen Pagano, Director of Food Services for the Beacon City School District, who has made many of these Farm to School month activities possible, and champions farm to school every day in Beacon’s cafeterias and beyond!

Please contact Karen Pagano at Beacon City School District (845-838- 6900 x2012) or Omari
Washington, Hudson Valley Seed (347-328- 4481), for more information.