Heart-Shaped PotatoI have blogged previously about the principles behind Harvest of the Month.  Last Spring Oregon Rural Action worked with Oregon Health and Sciences University nursing students to organize three Harvest of the Month “tasting tables” featuring local spinach. Powder Valley has embraced the concept of Harvest of the Month and is integrating it into their Farm to School Program.

There are several potato farms in the North Powder area and with potato harvest being in full swing, it only seemed appropriate that September focus on potatoes.  There were several components of “Potato Month”.  Interested teachers at Powder Valley Elementary were provided with information and materials by the Idaho Potato Commission and the Oregon Farm to School and School Garden Network.  These materials included interesting facts about the potato – such as the fact that wild potatoes originated in the Andes mountains and were first cultivated about 7,000 years ago – nutrition information, and tips for preparing potatoes.

In addition to in the classroom activities Powder Valley students also took a field trip to the Aldridge potato farm to see how potatoes are harvested and glean some for their lunch.  After returning to school with their bounty parent volunteers helped the students make baked Jo Jos that were then served as part of the school lunch (to much acclaim).

On September 23rd parent volunteers organized a Harvest of the Month Tasting Table, similar to the spinach tasting tables organized last spring.  I had the privilege of helping with the tasting table and interviewing some of the people involved.  You can speak with all of the people responsible for organizing all of these great activities at the October 29th Farm to School Workshop. I’ll apologize in advance for incompleteness of some of the files.  It was my first time using a digital voice recorder and there were a couple of points when I though it was recording, and apparently it was not.

  • Find out what Andi Sexton’s favorite type of potato is, as well as what types of potatoes and potato dishes were part of the tasting table. Click here to download and listen to the interview (WAV file, 928Kb).
  • Find out what types of potatoes, John, the North Powder maintenance manager’s favorite potato is, and why he things Farm to School is important.  Exclusive organizing tip: The maintenance manager was not someone I would have thought of to reach out to to be part of the Farm to School Committee, but buy in from him has been very important as North Powder moves forward with building permanent structures such as a cold storage facility.  Click here to download and listen to the interview (WAV file, 632Kb).
  • Listen to a partial (the DVR issue I mentioned earlier) interview with Vicky Brown.  Vicky has been integral to getting the garden going this year and helping the cooks transition to serving foods made from scratch.  Here she describes serving corn from the garden in the school lunch program and some of the resources North Powder is still trying to find.  Click here and here to download and listen to the interview (WAV files, 487Kb and 978Kb, respectively).
  • Here is an interview with a kindergartner about working in the garden and what type of potatoes he likes.  Sorry, this is probably the most difficult to understand interview of the bunch, but you have my word that he did indeed enjoy working in the garden and eating potato bread.  Click here to download and listen to the interview (WAV file, 797Kb).