School to Market Program Cultivates More than Produce

IMG_7047 Students at East Elementary School in Tillamook have a unique opportunity to engage in their school garden this year. Gleaning inspiration from programs like Denver’s Youth Markets and Windy City Harvest Youth Farm, this pilot curriculum provides students with the tools to design their own produce market plan.  This upcoming market season, thirty East Elementary sixth graders will apply math, science, critical thinking and literacy skills to real life local food system experience.

Tillamook County is known for its’ rich dairy farming culture and coastal resource abundance. This program provides a space for students to explore their robust local culture and play a crucial role in Tillamook’s food system as small scale producers.

IMG_7048This week students practiced soil testing and site analysis of their plots—two fundamental aspects of farming. Future lessons will explore concepts around crop planning, soil and pest management, economics and marketing. Once students have gained these techniques plus harvesting and processing experience, they will sell their bounty at the local Tillamook Farmer’s Market with Food Roots, Tillamook’s FoodCorps service site. Food Roots’ community Farm Table incubation booth enables small scale local producers to sell their products, expand their customer base, and gain experience in marketing and sales. This season East students will be joining 15-20 other local vendors at Farm Table, increasing the diversity and availability of local food at the market. Profits earned from this season’s School to Market sales will support next year’s class of farmers and expand East School’s garden program capacity.