READFIELD — Maranacook Community High School recently held several events in conjunction with Maine Harvest Lunch Week, Sept. 29-Oct. 3.

A panel discussion with local farmers was held in the school auditorium on Sept. 30. Organized by Pat Stanton and her Principles of Sustainable Agriculture Kennebec Community College dual enrollment class, the panel brought local farmers Kevin Leavitt of Farmer Kev’s Organic, Trent Emery of Emery Farm and Michael Dennett of Crescent Run Farm together for a discussion in front of more than 30 students and faculty. Students learned about organic and sustainable practices, differences between produce and animal farming, winter challenges and what a typical day on a farm looks like. Sophomore Abby Lucas gave a welcome to open the discussion.

Meals served in all Regional School Unit 38 cafeterias were locally sourced for the week, featuring produce from both Farmer Kev’s Organic and Emery Farm and meat from Crescent Run Farm, among several other farms. For students at Maranacook Community High School, much of the produce served in hot meals and the salad bar came directly from the school’s garden. While Food Service Director Jeff Bridges has served produce from the garden, including green beans, lettuce, tomatoes and cantaloupe, since the start of the year, food service staff highlighted the produce in their offerings throughout Maine Harvest Lunch Week. Options included minestrone soup made from scratch with local vegetables, a pesto flatbread made with basil from the high school garden and local cheese, chicken fajitas and quesadillas made with local vegetables and fresh tomato salsa and more. Students also learned how to make yogurt and applesauce, which was then served for breakfast.

The school’s garden includes 24 raised beds and a soon-to-be completed hoop house and is tended by students and teachers throughout the school year and summer. Students Luca DeAngelis, Colby Watts, John Parent and Colleen Wright have worked on the garden as part of the Student Senate’s Sustainability Committee. The Principles of Sustainable Agriculture class uses the garden as a living classroom where they can see sustainable practices at work. In the spring, the Living Off the Land Class built raised beds, started seedlings and planted vegetables and flowers for the school community to enjoy. Healthy Communities of the Capital Area, supported by a USDA Farm to School grant, partners with RSU 38 to help source locally grown foods for school meals. Caroline Moore, FoodCorps service member with Healthy Communities of the Capital Area, helped the district promote Maine Harvest Lunch Week and worked with students to harvest and prepare local produce.

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