Farm to Table Update: Early Learning and School Aged Community Make Leaps and Bounds!

Preschoolers at Beacon Hill Community Day School with their first F2T delivery from Full Circle!

The Farm to Table (F2T) pilot project among the early learning, child care, and school age community launched in late March and we’re so proud of, and impressed by, their progress so far! Only two months into the eight-month pilot, half of the sites have already ordered through F2T, and some have made repeat purchases.  This progress is especially impressive due to the relative dearth of products available in our region in early spring!  This early progress bodes well for the purchasing relationships between the sites and the farms for the long term, which we hope will self-sustain after the conclusion of the pilot project in November.

Even though the early learning F2T partners launched their pilot project well after that of PSFN’s senior meal program partners, early learning sites account for over a third of all Farm to Table purchases so far!

The media have been especially interested in the child care pilot. Two stories on Farm to Table have aired on the radio so far, one on the very first F2T delivery to a preschool by Martha Baskin of Green Acre Radio, KBCS (Listen to the broadcast here) and one by Charla Bear of KPLU (Listen to the broadcast here).

Up until now the early learning sites have been purchasing exclusively from PSFN Member Full Circle because of their ability to reliably produce affordable products year-round. Now that spring is finally upon us, we’re pleased to soon be able to expand the schools’ choices by welcoming PSFN Member 21 Acres Farm in Woodinville to the child care program!  21 Acres and its manager, Rosy Smit, have been fantastic F2T partners for the senior meal programs (they made the very first F2T delivery to Chicken Soup Brigade in January and hosted a field trip for F2T Partners from city agencies in March) and we’re so excited to work with them again this season!  We hope to bring seniors, preschoolers, and their respective foodservice professionals alike to 21 Acres to experience where their new, local food through F2T is coming from!

We’re so excited by the early learning pilot project!  Check out these pictures of F2T successes at ECEAP Preschools operated through Seattle Human Services Department’s division of Early Learning and Family Support (ELFS):

The Refugee and Immigrant Family Center, an ELFS site, receives its first delivery of Farm to Table produce from Full Circle!

PSFN's Farm to Table Coordinator, Karen Mauden, goes over the invoice for the purchased produce with Cheryl, the center's cook.

Beautiful, organic braising mix from Full Circle. The Refugee and Immigrant Family Center feeds nearly 100 children ages 3 and 4 every day!

To correspond with menu changes, many preschools have adapted their curriculum to incorporate lessons on vegetables and gardening. Here, children sing a song about growing and eating vegetables

Teachers help students safely prepare raw vegetables, a new experience for many!

Many sites encourage students to get to know the produce by feeling, smelling, and (finally!) tasting it

On Wednesday, June 1, all the ELFS providers were called together once more for a check in meeting. Everything is operated splendidly, they say!  We to see some more F2T produce orders soon, now that the weather is finally clearing up, making spring produce available!

The meeting also doubled as a training session and the providers learned how to prepare healthful mini pizzas packed with veggies! Trainer Leika Suzumura of Community Kitchens Northwest and PCC Natural Markets gave a very thorough and down-to-earth lesson on preparing healthy foods for kids. Who better than a nutritionist, expert on local organic foods, former pre-school cook, and a mom to give such a lesson? Leika pointed out a simple but sometimes forgotten fact: nutritious foods don’t do anyone any good unless they actually get into bellies! That’s why she suggests adding more nutrition to what you already eat – like pizza for kids – instead of making dramatic changes to your menus or diets! This is similar to what PSFN member Clayton Boroughs of Growing Washington once said, “Start small, but start something!” This saying has become a favorite and inspiring adage around the PSFN offices, and we’re glad Leika feels the same way!

Leika Suzumura of Community Kitchens and PCC Natural Markets shows ELFS providers how to cut kale so finely it can easily blend in with pizza sauce

The Early Learning providers try their hand at slicing and dicing pizza veggies.

Mushrooms and fresh basil? Yes, please! Catherine (rear) was the first ELFS provider to order fresh veggies through F2T for her site, Prospect Enrichment Preschool

Leika chose to teach the providers how to make pizzas because they're quick, it's easy to load up the sauce with nutritious veggies, and, of course, because kids love pizza!

PCC donated a bag of all the fresh produce needed for the pizza recipe to each site in attendence! Leika shows the ELFS providers how she judges nutritional balance in a meal based on the diversity of colors present

What a great group! We're so lucky to work with such enthusiastic and lively group!

For more photos of these events, visit our Facebook page!

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