Mid-October, The Farm at Walker Jones

Lots is going on over at the Farm at Walker Jones.  The herbs and greens that we planted late and mid summer- collards, kale and chard are thriving in the cooler damper weather.  We have harvested dozens of Racer pumpkins and there are still more than a dozen left.  They have been the starting point for many school snacks such as pumpkin bread, pumpkin pizza, pumpkin cookies, roasted pumpkin seeds with raisins...Recently planted turnips, carrots, claytonia, salad mache and black seeded simpson lettuce have replaced many of the mid summer crops.  We plan to put winter hoops over part of the farm so we can continue to grow and harvest during the cooler months. Neighbors and students have been taking food home with them.  We used some farm ingredients to cook for the Walker Jones Back to School Night, some of the classes are eating school snacks made from farm produce and excess produce has been donated to DC Central Kitchen.  Saturdays from 9:00 to noon have become our volunteer day, we have a great turn out, get lots of work done and it's fun...no prior farming/garden experience necessary...just show up and there are usually snacks provided.  A teacher from WJ, Mr. LaRue has set up a bike clinic during volunteer Saturdays and has been fixing bikes for anyone with a bike problem.

Since the school year started classes have been coming out to the Farm regularly to participate in various farm activities that are coordinated with classroom curriculum.  Younger kids are counting and observing, older kids are learning about various components of soil and doing math calculations...

The last couple of weeks have had some indoor days and we started setting up a kitchen classroom that we plan to use throughout the winter.  We are cooking with Farm ingredients and bringing the outside lessons inside.  The below post from the Walker Jones Farm Blog gives a little taste of what has been going on and what is to come for the colder months ahead.

Ms. Camp’s third grade class made their first trip down to the emerging kitchen classroom on the first floor today. Several other classes have been there before them as the weather has turned wet and chilly during these early fall days, and I believe the children’s assessment of this new feature of our farming program sounds something like this coming from little lips – “Yum!”

Farmer John began with a run through of all the safety tips necessary for this type of exercise. “No one touches the chef’s knives. Not yet. By the end of the year, all of you will be cutting up food, but not yet.” There were also reminders about crowding and being careful about the induction burners and the edges of the pans. Every head in the class nodded in agreement, every voice sounded their understanding. And then the fun began.

Everyone watched as John sliced the apples, and showed the students the ingredients that would make up their snack today – kale, apples, sunflower seeds, raisins, oil, salt and pepper. They tasted each of the ingredients individually before the cooking began. To mixed reviews. Especially concerning the raw kale.

Then the students lined up to each side of the table and took turns adding the ingredients to the pans as John tossed and tossed and stirred a little.

The smells filled the room. The kids took up the forks. And as John loaded up two large plates for all to share, I took off down the hall to deliver a taste to Principal Martin. Who loved it and left not a spot of food in the bowl.

I raced back down the stairs from where I had found Ms. Martin, anxious to try a bite of third grade culinary magic. But this is what I found.

I imagine it tasted wonderful. At least twenty or so smiling faces would seem to suggest so. Who said kids won’t eat kale?