Harvest of the Month: Muscadines!

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In September, we purchased a thousand pounds of delicious muscadine grapes to serve at lunch at 24 schools!

Muscadines grow in the wild here in North Central Florida – and all over the southeast US. They are much smaller (but delicious) and help support a variety of wildlife, including deer, raccoons, and squirrels. Native Americans ate them, and early European immigrants began cultivating them.

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Native grape growing in nearby woods

Laray Thompson, of Thompson Nursery and Vineyard in Valrico grew ours. Before she became a grower, she was a teacher and was thrilled to know that her grapes would be heading to our food hub to be repacked by students for students.

To encourage students to give them a try, the Food and Nutrition department created educational signage for the lunch line as well as trading cards for elementary students to bring home with them.

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A lot of students tried this local gem of a fruit for the first time this week. We are working on persimmons, another Florida native, for October’s Harvest of the Month.

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Lake Forest student likes grapes!

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Lincoln students enjoyed them too!

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Arthur is now a school employee!

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Arthur serving up breakfast at Lofton High School 

Arthur, one of our first students at the Farm to School to Work Hub, was hired by Food and Nutrition Services to work at Lake Forest Elementary School  and Lofton High School kitchens. He is receiving full benefits and the opportunity to continue to grow and develop as an employee – and to move up the career ladder.

Arthur was a team player from the beginning, encouraging other students and working hard to learn how to grow food and practice food safety. When he became an intern at the school last spring, he quickly showed himself to be an asset to the team at Lake Forest. They wanted to hire him – not because they wanted to support the program, but because Arthur is truly a great employee.

We have a two-fold mission at the Farm to School to Work Hub – one is to get local food in the school meal programs, the other to prepare students with disabilities for life post-graduation. We are looking forward to more students following in Arthur’s footsteps. We have two more interns heading to schools this month!