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Students to Taste Apple Varieties at 9 FPS Schools

Posted by Alan on October 12, 2012 12:06 PM | (Not Filed) |

appletaster.pngNine FPS schools will celebrate National Farm to School Month with PTO-sponsored apple tastings in October. Apples for the tastings are purchased from two local farms, A&A Orchards of Berryville and Dickey Farms of Tontitown.

Taste tests are a fun way for students to try new foods, gain appreciation for local produce and learn how apples are grown. Students will also hear about Northwest Arkansas' rich apple history. The tastings help FPS support local agriculture and act as a starting point for introducing more locally-grown foods into cafeteria menus.

"I am so impressed by the enthusiasm and participation in the tastings. The majority of schools in the district have decided to host the event," says Ally Mrachek, FoodCorps Service Member serving with the school district. "I think school staff and administrators were encouraged by the students' excitement for local ingredients during last year's Farm to School educational lunches and were eager to do more."

Students will sample and vote on their favorite apple, many of which are heirloom varieties. Results will be tallied and posted in schools, and sent home to parents with fun apple facts and simple recipes using the winning apple variety. Holt Middle School's fifth and sixth grade science classes will take the event a step further by incorporating it into their classroom lessons.

Students will tally and graph their school's results and present them to their cafeteria staff to influence apple varieties offered on the cafeteria salad bar when the chosen varieties are available and in season.

Holt sixth grade science teacher and garden club originator, Justin Leflar, states, "I am excited that the apple tasting will give the students a chance to use the scientific skills of observation and data collection that they are learning in class to accomplish a real change at the school. Once they aggregate the data we collect on their preferences of apples, they will get to enjoy these locally grown apples in the cafeteria and we may even try to plant and maintain a tree
of that breed of apples on campus."

Apple tastings will be hosted on the following dates:
Oct. 16: Root Elementary, 8:30 am-10 am
Oct. 17: Vandergriff Elementary, 8 am-11 am
Oct. 19: Asbell Elementary, 11 am-2:30 pm
Oct. 22: Leverett Elementary, 9 am-12 pm
Oct. 23: Happy Hollow Elementary, 8:30 am -11 am
Oct. 24: Washington Elementary, 11:30 am-2:3 0pm
Oct. 25: Holcomb Elementary, 12 pm-2:00 pm
Oct 29: Owl Creek School, 11:20 am -1:00 pm
Oct. 30 & 31: Holt Middle School, 9 am-1 pm and 9 am - 2:45 pm

FPS started Farm to School efforts in 2005 with limited local purchasing. Last summer, Owl Creek housed the district's summer lunch program that sourced the majority of the ingredients locally. This school year, the program is expanding to salad bars and menu items at Owl Creek School and Holt Middle School.

Farm to School is broadly defined as a program that connects schools (K-12) and local
farms with the objectives of serving healthy meals in school cafeterias, improving student nutrition, providing agriculture, health and nutrition education opportunities, and supporting local and regional farmers. For more information, visit http://www.farmtoschool.org/.