“Do you know how a carrot grows?” farmer Katie Swanson asked Shasta Elementary School second–graders Thursday (Oct. 26) during Klamath County School District’s sixth-annual Crunch at Once event. The students had just crunched their farm-fresh carrots and had questions for the farmer who grew them.
Holding up her carrot, Swanson motioned to the carrot root explaining that it grew in the ground.
“Can we eat the green part?” a student asked.
And the questions kept coming. Swanson, owner of Sweet Union Farm near Klamath Falls, visited Shasta during the lunch hour, passing out carrots and talking to students about farming – and carrots. She was accompanied by her farm assistant Nick Diewald.
“I don’t think I realized until I was here how I don’t get to see people eating the vegetables I spent so much time growing,” she said. “It is really cool to see a kid eating my carrot and hear them say, ‘This is delicious!’ ”
The Shasta students were among more than 3,865 students from 12 KCSD schools who counted down together and crunched into carrots grown by Swanson. She grew, harvested, and delivered 4,750 carrots to the county’s elementary schools and a high school for the event, which celebrates National Farm to School Month.
In past years, students have crunched Oregon-grown apples and Klamath-grown spinach. This is the third year a local farmer supplied the district with thousands of fresh carrots for the annual event.
Gillian Sisson, Klamath County School District’s Farm to School education facilitator, spent October teaching students about carrots, teaching classroom lessons and providing lesson plans to teachers.
“A majority of students are seeing a whole carrot with the stem for the first time during Crunch at Once,” Sisson said. “Being that the carrots are delivered directly from the farm, they are delicious and in their natural form. It’s great to see Farm to School education and procurement come full circle.”
Schools participating in the Crunch at Once included Bonanza Elementary, Chiloquin Elementary, Ferguson Elementary, Gearhart Elementary, Gilchrist, Henley Elementary, Lost River, Malin Elementary, Merrill Elementary, Peterson Elementary, Shasta Elementary and Stearns Elementary. Keno and Brixner students offered the farm-fresh carrots on their salad bars.
Throughout the year, the district’s Food Services Team supports Farm to School through its procurement and promotion of local foods, pursuit of grant funding opportunities, and support of agriculture education.