It’s National Farm to School Month, and a high school in Sitka is celebrating by serving locally grown food to its students. Not only did they get to eat the fresh fare, they also gathered and prepared it themselves.
“We cook lunch,” says 18-year-old Erin Quakendall, who is taking a culinary class at Pacific High. “The entire class cooks lunch for the whole school.”
In honor of National Farm to School Month, the class made a meal using local ingredients.
Co-principal Sarah Ferrency helped choose the menu. “Coho salmon with a lemon swirl and dill pesto served on a bed of kale…”
Wait a second. Teenagers eat kale? And they like it?
“Everybody thinks it’s impossible to make children eat fruits and vegetables,” says Ferrency, “but it’s not.”
All it takes, she says, is being more involved with the food we eat.
“They need to have some personal investment in it, you know, and I really felt like the students who went and picked the vegetables had personal investment in those vegetables…”
Erin agrees. “We got to go out there and like, dig through the potato bins to find the potatoes and pull up carrots and stuff.”
Sitka Conservation Society’s Fish to Schools program provided the salmon and students got the vegetables from Down-to-Earth U-Pick Garden. The meal also included mashed potatoes, a barley biscuit and blueberry apple crisp.
“That was sort of as close as we could get for the local for the fruit,” says Ferrency. “The apples are from Washington and the blueberries were locally picked.”
It might sound easy, but Ferrency says it’s actually pretty tough to eat food grown in Sitka.
“It just takes a lot of effort to grow stuff here. It doesn’t just spring up here like it does in California or other warmer places. We have so much rain and ultimately, so little sun, like this summer when it just rained all summer long. Sometimes stuff just doesn’t grow.”
Erin says that although she hasn’t always enjoyed cooking, the culinary class has shown her it can be fun.