SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

October 10, 2012

From local farms to local schools

Fresh fruits and veggies showing up in school cafeterias

(Continued)

Moraine Farm delivers typical vegetables like lettuce, spinach and carrots, but Anderson has also provided recipes that include escarole and chicory.

“When I deliver the food, the cooks are really excited about trying new things,” Anderson said.

Moraine Farm established its relationship with the local schools with help from the Massachusetts Farm to School Project, which was created in 2004 with funding from the state Department of Agriculture. Simca Horwitz, the organization’s farm-to-cafeteria coordinator, introduced Anderson and Salem Food Services Director Deborah Jeffers and brought Jeffers out to the farm last year.

Horwitz said it is more challenging to create school/farm partnerships in eastern Massachusetts because the farms are generally smaller and more accustomed to retail sales than selling wholesale to large organizations.

To make sure students are aware that their food is being locally grown, the Farm to School Project arranges visits from local farmers and provides promotional materials like posters and baseball-like cards of farmers that include their ‘statistics’ on the back.

“Especially at the elementary level, the kids start to know the farmers,” Horwitz said. “They get the sense that, ‘That’s our farmer!’ We’re trying to cultivate that sense of a real direct connection.”

Brooksby Farm has been selling produce to its hometown Peabody schools for years, but now also has arrangements with Marblehead, Hamilton-Wenham, Manchester Essex, Tewksbury and Triton. Tewksbury, as an example, buys 20 bushels of apples per week, about 2,800 apples.

Kriksceonaitis said selling to schools is not a big moneymaker for the farm, “but if we can get kids eating healthier, the farms are better off in the long run.”

“If we can get them used to the flavor of fresh fruit,” he said, “chances are they’re going to be eating it when they’re older instead of a Twinkie.”

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or pleighton@salemnews.com.

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