Students at Quilcene High School were treated to a food performance by chef Arran Stark of Jefferson Healthcare on March 12.
Stark prepared purple sprouting broccoli while giving an engaging performance and a history of broccoli, sharing with students the importance of eating seasonally. He also offered cooking tips and tricks, and shared the story of his journey to becoming a chef.
The program was coordinated by Tina Herschelman of Jefferson Healthcare and Erin Yeakel, coordinator for the Quilcene School Garden.
Students had the opportunity to taste Stark’s dish and enjoyed the fact that some of the broccoli was grown in the school garden. The rest of the broccoli used was grown at Nash’s in Sequim.
The Quilcene School Garden was started by a group of community members, parents and teachers who wanted to introduce fresh, healthy food, local food producers and garden-education practices into the school, explained Yeakel.
In 2009, the new coalition applied for and received a grant from Jefferson County Public Works. In addition, it was able to secure instruction and a garden teacher, which was made possible through the Jefferson County Farm to School program, Yeakel said.
“The coalition was able to work with a supportive school board, administration and food service director to implement these goals and interests,” Yeakel said.
After the success of the collaboration and with the continued interest of the school board, school administration and staff members, the garden program became a solid and permanent feature of the school, she said.
The mission of the Quilcene School Garden is to enrich the K-12 curriculum and support project-based and experiential learning.
“We also aim to inspire students to learn about good nutrition and environmental stewardship through weekly class-time exposure in the school garden and through access to local and garden-grown foods in the school cafeteria,” she said.
“Lastly, we provide opportunity for community members to connect with students and the garden through interaction during class time, care and maintenance of the garden grounds, and student projects that could reach out into the neighborhoods surrounding our school in Quilcene.”
According to the school garden’s mission statement, “The school garden is an extension of the classroom. The program intends to reconnect students with the natural world, the source of their food. The school garden is a place where students can learn valuable gardening and agricultural skills, test concepts that apply and integrate other educational subjects such as art, math, science, health, physical education, social studies and STEM/STEAM and understand personal and social responsibility.”