Spring is here at last, and Island Grown Schools celebrates the appearance of the first spring greens in school gardens across the Island.
We dedicated April to greens in our Harvest of the Month program, with taste tests at every school and school meals featuring local and regionally grown greens at least twice throughout the month.
Baby braising greens, pea shoots, dandelion greens — these first spring crops are like a tonic, just what our bodies need after so many months of heavy winter foods. The children seem to sense this instinctively. Last week at one Island preschool, a little girl munching on the new shoots of just-sprouted baby kale, said “This kale is sweeter than cupcakes!”
Cafeteria directors, teachers, and students all made the most of these first crops of the season. At the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, cafeteria director Bernadette Cormie and her staff have been serving fresh local greens from the Farm Institute not only every day during greens month, but almost every day of the entire fall and winter.
At the Chilmark School, chef Robert Lionette and student helper chefs prepared a beautiful meal featuring greens of all kinds. Sprouts the children had started in their classrooms, baby braising greens and lettuces from the Farm Institute were all devoured by the students, teachers and community guests at the April community lunch.
Charter School first graders grew salad confetti, a beautiful mix of light green, dark green and purple spicy mixed greens, which appeared on the school salad bar along with pea shoots grown in the greenhouse with IGS coordinator Sam Greene.
At the West Tisbury School, kindergarten teacher Teri Mello has been growing a staggering amount of pea shoots and salad greens with her students. The children use scissors to harvest the greens, saving most for the school salad bar but eating as many as they can out of hand. When I visited the cafeteria last week, assistant chef Mercedes Ferreira was washing a huge colander of pea shoots in the kitchen. “We are getting this from the kindergarteners every single day,” she said in wonder.
Our featured recipe this month is salad greens with strawberries and feta, contributed by Island salad queen, chef and cookbook author Cathy Walthers. You can download the simple and delicious recipe on our website, and learn more about Harvest of the Month at islandgrown.org/schools.