SafeStaff training for our students!

Congratulations to our four SafeStaff-trained students!

Congratulations to our four SafeStaff-trained students!

The students who are with us everyday form the backbone of our program – in the kitchen, the greenhouse, and the garden. Food safety is an important part of their training and Daniel, our kitchen coordinator, has been methodically working through the SafeStaff handbook with them to make sure they are getting the basic training that every kitchen staff member should have.

Recently, four of our students, hand-picked by Daniel for their level of knowledge and experience, attended an official SafeStaff class taught by certified trainer Blake Dicks. Because the material was familiar to them, both from the book and in their experience working in the kitchen, they were very attentive during the four-hour class and participated right along with food service staff from across the county.

Today, Jan Benet from the Exceptional Student Education department joined Maria Eunice, Director of Food and Nutrition Services, and Blake, their trainer to give the students their official SafeStaff cards.  The Friday class celebrated with them with cake and strawberries. This is a wonderful first step toward finding good work for these great young people. Their hard work and professional knowledge and skills in the kitchen are going to make them an asset in future work environments.

Congratulations, students!

It takes a village - and we have a very supportive one at the Farm to School to Work Hub.

It takes a village – and we have a very supportive one at the Farm to School to Work Hub.


ptoato duo 4.21.15

Students “dug for treasure” today and came up with red potatoes of all sizes. Their assistants were as surprised and pleased as they were.

potatoes 4.21.15

So many people experience potatoes mainly as a side of fries.  Experiencing the wonder of burying a piece of potato in a mound of soil, waiting and watering (and battling army worms) for a few months, and then discovering it’s multiplied by ten-fold is something that every child deserves to do.

potatoes in a bucket 4.21.2015

We have (at least) 31 school gardens in Alachua County ten of which deliver produce to their lunchrooms. Our students at the Farm to School to Work Hub grow the transplants and package some of the seeds for these gardens – sharing the bounty of their own wealth of knowledge and skills with younger garden treasure-hunters.

Fries and Ketchup – Farm to School Style

60s friesThe Persian cucumber harvest in the greenhouse is on a roll! And this week we also continued to receive “freezer-grade” strawberries from Frog Song Organics farm! So.. Daniel, our kitchen training coordinator, came up with this fun dish! We tested it at the downtown market Wednesday night and it got great reviews!

Matthew serves up a side of

Matthew serves up a side of “fries.”

Here’s the recipe for the dip:

Strawberry Dip:

1 3/4 cup frozen strawberries, thawed
2/3 cup low-fat plain yogurt
3/4 cup lite mayo
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1/2 tablespoon each granulated garlic, dried basil, and paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Whiz together in blender until puréed. Simple, tasty, and it meets school standards!

Thanks to Gainesville Compost . . .

Chris Cano of Gainesville Compost is on the far right

Chris Cano (far right) and our expressive Friday crew

We have worms!  Chris from Gainesville Compost helped students build a large worm bin to dispose of some of the snack scraps we produce. Students are amazed at how quickly the vegetable matter “disappears.”

gnv compost

WORMWe are so grateful and proud to work with Gainesville Compost. They have been regular helpers, and this new composting system not only helps the students learn about worms and their function in decomposition and soil conditioning but will also teach the many visitors we have at Loften.

You can learn a lot about them and how to plug into their bike-powered composting service and advice here.

Cucumbers are coming!

Measuring cucumbers to determine readiness for harvest.

Measuring cucumbers to determine readiness for harvest.

The students are growing some beautiful Persian cucumbers in the greenhouse in beta buckets. They are just starting to come in! They are kid-friendly cukes – small, thin-skinned, seedless, and sweet. We will use them in school lunches through May and then in our summer feeding program!

These are top-of-the-line veggies going out to children most in need of good nutrition. Grown by students for students!

Eugene finds the perfect cucumber for harvesting.

Eugene finds the perfect cucumber for harvesting.

Kelly and Eugene inspect cucumbers.

Kelly and Eugene inspect cucumbers.