In-Service 2012 at BCS

In-Service 2012 at BCS

Teachers present their recipes after our cooking session with Caroline.

The new school year at BCS began yesterday, with kiddos moving in and moving up. It's always an exciting but tricky time, with everyone getting used to new classrooms, new friends and new routines.

The teachers and staff spent last week working tirelessly to ready their new spaces for the new year and the entire school looks amazing. The kitchen got a good scrub and a bit of a re-arrange.  But the most exciting thing for me was our first workshop on Monday morning.

The wonderful Caroline Homan, Food and Nutrition Coordinator for City Market, joined us for a snack makeover session, bringing food and new snack time recipes.

Teams work on their snacks in the kitchen.
But not just any snack recipes - super healthy and natural snacks made from scratch by us with only whole ingredients. Like Apple Cranberry bars, Date bars, Sesame treats, and honey  yogurt dip. Like kale salad (that kids will actually eat), crispy kale chips, and kale/egg/cheese cups. Homemade butter, or blueberry frozen yogurt. 
Crackers ready for the oven...
Like cheddar and sesame crackers made with whole wheat dough that "soaks" overnight in yogurt. 

Cheddar sesame crackers!

Like homemade blueberry soda carbonated with a ginger "bug", and pickled carrots and cukes, and saurkraut!
Toddler teacher Miranda shows off the finished blueberry soda

All the pickled veggies used lacto-fermentation for the pickling process,  a method of preserving by submerging veggies in a salt water brine. 

We divided into teams and tackled the recipes. We had an hour to cook, then we put everything on display with pages for comments on taste and "makeability", both as a project with kids, or to make alone as a snack for the class. Then we got down to the serious business of tasting everything we'd made.
It was a blast. Everything was delicious, and while different and a little more demanding on the prep side, we all agreed that we want to start incorporating more homemade, whole food snacks into the rotation.  The preschool is tackling some sesame crackers tomorrow, and I'm making kale salad for lunch. You should make it too!

Massaged Kale Salad (courtesy of City Market)

1 bunch kale (any variety, but the Lacinato works especially well)
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1-2 Tbs lemon juice
We also used 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds and 1 cup of diced green apples, but you could also add feta cheese, walnut pieces, pumpkin seeds, avocado, garlic, etc..

Remove the stems from the kale, cut or tear into small strips (for kids) and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the salt and olive oil and gently rub into the kale for a few minutes with your fingers, until the kale starts to wilt. Add the lemon juice and anything else you're adding and toss. Taste and adjust the seasoning. It's incredible, I promise.

What's On Your Plate?

What's on your plate?

This past week I learned about  the UVM Food Feed blog, all about Sustainable Food Systems written by contributing University faculty and staff. I have to say, it's kind of a revelation. I can't believe I'm just finding it now.  It looks as though it's been going strong since April, and it's full of lots of great stuff.
The blog is meant to support and highlight the Breakthrough Leaders Program for Sustainable Food Systems.

Excerpts from a Burlington Free Press story that ran on July 8, 2012, written byMelissa Pasanen, a food writer and editor based in Vermont. Contact Melissa Pasanen at, and follow her on Twitter at
“The program’s goal, said Cynthia Belliveau, dean of continuing education, department of nutrition and food sciences professor and a core member of the planning team, was to help ‘emerging leaders in food systems learn to better articulate and use their voices to talk about alternative food systems.’”
“Food systems is a relatively new academic discipline, Belliveau said, but was selected in 2009 as one of the three ‘spires’ of transdisciplinary research focus at the university. The field explores ‘the role of local, regional, national and global food systems and how they affect soil, water, human health, nutrition, economics and transportation,’ she said.”

Fantastic! And there's more! Like this great post about Jamie De Palma, a recent graduate of UVM's amazing Farmer Training Program 

And (maybe) best of all my finds on the blog so far, this video produced by the program, offering a broad but insightful run-down of the troubles with the dominant food system, and an introduction to some alternatives for getting us back on track to health - personal and planetary! 


Hot Summer, Big News!

It has been a busy few months at BCS! We love summer, and this one has been full of wonderful stuff so far. Our preschoolers have been trekking to the Intervale to study the pond, we have been checking on the garden, playing in the treehouse, walking around town, and of course.... eating delicious food for lunch!
We had a fantastic family dinner way back in June. Everyone ate curry couscous with raisins and carrots,  a beautiful  salad made with Digger's Mirth greens,  bread and watermelon. It was a beautiful night and a smaller than usual turnout for us, but everyone ate, relaxed, and chatted away for longer than usual.

This past week Sarah and I were lucky to attend the 6th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference right here in Burlington! The theme of the conference was Digging In! with a logo designed by Burlington artist (and great friend of gardens and local food) Bonnie Acker.
It was amazing.  With over 800 attendees from around the country representing so many areas of the Farm to School movement, and so many incredible presenters, it was impossible to come away uninspired.

Vermont FEED (food education every day) was the local sponsor for the conference.
From their website:

Vermont FEED works with schools and communities to raise awareness about healthy food, the role of Vermont farms and farmers, and good nutrition.We act as a catalyst for rebuilding healthy food systems and to cultivate links between classrooms, cafeterias, communities, and local farms.

We heard from Anupama Joshi, the Executive Director of the National Farm to School Network, Chuck Ross, the Vermont Secretary of Agriculture, and Bernie Sanders, U.S. Senator! We attended workshops on strategies for telling our story to the public, connecting with local partners, and best of all, the growing Farm to Preschool movement! I listened to presenters from the F to P advisory board talk about the activities happening in Farm to Preschool programs and was so excited to find that BCS already incorporates them all. Buying local food whenever possible, building healthy food into curriculum, getting to know our farms and farmers, gardening,  newsletters, sending extra produce home with families.... we do it all! I was also thrilled to meet folks from Portland, Oregon-based Ecotrust.
From the Ecotrust website:

Ecotrust's mission is to inspire fresh thinking that creates economic opportunity, social equity and environmental wellbeing. Our goal is to foster a natural model of development that creates more resilient communities, economies, and ecosystems here and around the world.
Sounds great, right?  What if I told you that they even have a Farm to School initiative? Well they do, and it's headed by two ladies I was thrilled to meet, Stacy Sobell and Katy Pelissier. They spoke at a Farm to Preschool workshop and at a discussion group for folks involved in Early Ed. programs and preschools.  I talked about our program and how proud we are of our family dinners, and Ms. Pelissier asked if she could write about them for the Farm to School website!  We are so excited to be part of the growing wave of Farm to Preschool work across the nation.  

As if that wasn't enough, we've begun picking up donated gleaned produce along with several other local programs from the Intervale Community Farm every Friday for serving and sharing with families. Look for photos of our Friday produce process next week!

Thanks for reading and happy Summer!