The Greater Green Bay weather forecast for the next seven days looks grim. When I average the daily high temperatures for the next week, I come up with a meager 43.4 degrees.
It’s pretty much official folks, the outdoor growing season is over and it’s tempting to think that it’s time for Farm to School efforts to succumb to the coming of old man winter. Yet, as any seasoned gardener knows, there are many ways to extend the growing season, and local schools are taking advantage of a menu of strategies to extend their ability to use locally sourced products in months when our local fields are covered in snow.
Case in point, a year ago this week, Live54218 joined with seven area school districts (Ashwaubenon, GRACE, De Pere, West De Pere, Howard-Suamico and Pulaski) for a bulk food processing event hosted by Green Bay Area Public Schools. Over the course of one afternoon, food services workers cleaned, prepped, processed and packaged a monumental 2,800 pounds of locally purchased carrots and onions that made their way into soups, stews and other school lunch recipes over the following six months.
Bulk Processing Day was a grand gesture of our region’s commitment to increasing local food production and consumption. On a practical side, however, it served to inspire an array of efforts within individual districts to implement strategies that stretch the growing season. Requests for dehydrators, food processors and packaging machines aim to make the produce grown in school gardens over the summer and early fall available through the winter months. Additionally, classroom garden carts and hoop houses shift physical growing capacity to a year-round paradigm.
While these efforts cannot yet come close to replacing our current food purchasing patterns, there’s no denying that area schools are thinking about local food in a different, more empowered way.
Is your school doing something cool to extend the growing season? Share it here!