Victory Garden a food win for school district

Get your ticket to Sunday Supper with Alice Waters


Posted: Saturday, October 10, 2015 12:00 am
By Tessa Edick
For Columbia-Greene Media


We are all concerned about our children’s health. Obesity has doubled in children and quadrupled in teenagers over the past 30 years nationwide.


In New York state, 32.9 percent of children are considered overweight or obese. It’s no mystery why: About one-third of youngsters consume pizza, processed or fast food daily, even in schools at lunch. Cheap and convenience are the culprits.


Meanwhile, New York farms are 98 percent family-owned, but more than half of them report sales of $10,000 or less per year — not a healthy picture for any of us. Together we change the future of food, one delicious bite at a time.


It takes a village!


Farm to School month is off to strong start this October in the Hudson Valley and FarmOn! Foundation is leading the way to an edible education collaborating with partners to strengthen and facilitate that change.


It starts with school lunch.


Events are scheduled all month long in the Poughkeepsie schools. Students districtwide will go on farm tours to Poughkeepsie Farm Project (vegetables), Hudson Valley Fresh (dairy) and local apple orchards (fruit) to learn about agriculture, eating healthy and cookery with Culinary Institute of America graduates. Local farmers will visit classrooms with CIA chefs as part of a curriculum for each grade.


A FarmOn! Victory Garden opened Wednesday for 4,500 students and the community to get connected to where food comes from and take ownership of the new 12-bed garden at the SFB Morse Elementary School, built and funded by FarmOn! Foundation. The “Chili Jamboree” Community Dinner will feature locally sourced Slope Farm beef and farm fresh vegetables and be served to 700 local families on Oct. 22 at Poughkeepsie High School for National Food Day.


FarmOn! makes this possible with charitable contributions from generous supporters and partnerships with people and businesses like you. We must realize the importance that together, there is strength in numbers. Together, we lift up our farmers by buying food direct from family farms not factories, which clearly don’t care about our health or the health of our communities. You have the right to know what is in your food.


We are taking matters back into our own hands with seed and soil to secure our own nutritious food and optimize our bodies for good health. As activists, parents, educators, farmers and eaters across the country, we are demanding better access to what used to be a birthright in agriculturally rich America: responsibly made, nutrient dense, fresh, local food.


While it’s increasingly a collaborative effort, bonding like-minded individuals from coast-to-coast, there is one person who, more than anyone else, made the farm-to-table movement possible — and today stays committed to an edible education through garden-based learning in schools with the Edible Schoolyard Project: Lady Alice Waters, of course, the farm matriarch.


Sunday Supper with Alice Waters


On Oct. 18, a unique opportunity is open to the public in the Hudson Valley inviting 40 ticket holders to meet and eat Sunday Supper with Alice Waters and our community of local farmers, eaters and businesses to give and collaborate, funding youth educational programming in agriculture in the Hudson Valley.


Waters, a pioneering Berkeley chef, author and activist, was recently honored with the National Humanities Medal, awarded by President Obama on Sept. 10. Her efforts to promote locally grown sustainable foods include the Edible Schoolyard project, which she founded in 1996 in a Berkeley middle school, a program called the School Lunch Initiative. That same year, she also founded the Chez Panisse Foundation, which later launched the Garden Project.


Only by collaborating can we strengthen our commitment to resilient agriculture, provide access to responsible food for everyone across the country and bridge the gap between farms and children, who deserve good food.


Join us, we are honored to welcome Alice Waters to historic Empire Farm at 556 Empire Road, Copake, in the heart of our agricultural community in Columbia County, for an intimate sit-down benefit dinner hosted by Waters herself and our partners. Chef Jonathan Wright of the Rainbow Room NYC and special guest Mona Talbott of Talbott & Arding in Hudson will prepare the feast.


The multi-course meal will feature only seasonal, locally sourced ingredients sourced from family farms just 5 miles from your plate. Proceeds will support the Edible Schoolyard Project too, in our aligned mission to serve children with an edible education and the future of food. Good food is not a privilege.


It’s 5 o’clock somewhere festivities will kick off Oct. 18 with a cocktail hour on the 220-acre farm, with bites grown on property and from area farms. Local libations crafted just down the road at Hillrock Estate Distillery and sparkling water from Saratoga Springs, among other selections, will be poured. Dinner prepared over open fire with the magical Hudson Valley autumnal colored landscape is sure to please. Homemade soup simmering, meats brined, braised and roasted and fresh simple salads will make seconds at this family-style affair a must!


Promising a celebration for the richness of the Hudson Valley harvest, with conversation that inspires and fundraising that makes educational youth programming possible, Alice Waters will share her passion with special guests.


Food for tomorrow is changing. And it starts with our daily choices. Be a leader of that change at your table with a question: Where does my food come from? If you eat today, thank a farmer. FarmOn!


To contact Tessa Edick, email tessa@ Follow her on Twitter/Instagram @FarmOnFarmOn.


NOTE: Tremendous thank you to Alice Waters, Mona Talbott of Talbott & Arding, Edible Schoolyard Project, Chef Jonathan Wright, Rainbow Room NYC, Local Economies Project, Poughkeepsie School District, Poughkeepsie Farm Project, County Executive Marc Molinaro, Mazzone Hospitality, Sen. Sue Serino, Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, Dutchess County Tourism and Department of Health, New York state Department of Ag & Markets, Fix Brothers Fruit Farm, Klein Kill Fruit Farms, Hudson Valley Fresh, Lowe’s, Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union, Hudson Valley Office Furniture, Blue Cashew Kitchen Pharmacy, Ron Reeves Photography and Sandy McKelvey.


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