Submitted by Shonna Keogan
This week, children at Mamaroneck Avenue School (MAS) were able to reap what they sowed in their own school garden as part of the annual MAS Salad Celebration. On June 10 and 11, students in all grades picked lettuce, herbs and edible flowers that they planted from seed in their classrooms and then transplanted into the garden’s raised beds.
The students pledged to “pick only what they will eat and try something new”. After picking their salad with a partner, they washed, dressed and wrapped their salad, then proceeded to enjoy their oh-so-local greens.
“The MAS garden is an incredible, enriching experience for our students,” said Principal Carrie Amon. “We are so grateful for the dedication of our parents who meticulously tend to its upkeep. Everything looks beautiful, the vegetables are delectable and the environment provides us with a peaceful place where we can appreciate the wonders of nature.”
Culinary professional Adam Kaye, Chef/Kitchen Director from Blue Hill at Stone Barns was on hand to help with the Salad Celebration. Chef Adam, as the kids call him, introduced a special MAS balsamic salad dressing for the Salad Celebration last year, which was reprised by popular demand during this year’s celebration.
Photo Caption: Chef Adam with the kids
Photo credit: Shonna Keogan
“The kid’s response at last year’s salad tasting was unbelievable,” commented Chef Adam. “You could tell how excited they were to participate in the growing, harvesting and preparation of their food. Even the pickiest eaters among them were won over by the end of the experience. To me, that’s the sign of success!”
Chef Adam has adopted MAS as part of the Chefs Move to Schools program and helped develop the Salad Celebration. The Salad Celebration is one of several events MAS has done in conjunction with the Chefs Move to Schools Program, a program started by First Lady Michelle Obama in 2010. The program encourages local chefs to work with school districts and lend their knowledge of nutrition and food to promote healthy and affordable school meals.
At the end of the MAS Salad Celebration, the remaining lettuce was picked, washed and bagged by the MAS Student Council. These remaining super fresh and local greens will then be delivered to the Larchmont-Mamaroneck Food Pantry, located on Center Avenue, less than half a mile from the school.
On June 13 and 14, the MAS Community Garden will be planted again for the summer. This time, the garden will be planted with the Legacy Garden by the MAS outgoing 5th grade class. This Legacy Garden will include many root vegetables and winter squash. The Legacy Garden grows all summer long and is harvested in the fall by incoming Kindergartners in September. Chef Adam Kaye will use the fall harvest to prepare an autumnal soup to be sampled at MAS in late September or early October.
The MAS Community Garden has been growing for over 12 years. The garden was started by now retired Pre-K teacher Susan Longo as a small pumpkin patch demonstrating the seed to table concept. Last year, the MAS PTA expanded the garden to twenty raised beds and the salad sampling from two grades to include the entire school through 5th grade. The MAS PTA donated the funds for the additional raised beds.
“We expanded the MAS Community Garden last year, to encourage all the kids to taste new things and to teach them where food comes from. They see what fresh food tastes like and how much better a fresh, local strawberry is than one purchased at the grocery store,” said Alli Margoshes, of the PTA Garden Committee. “Next year we hope to start establishing an understanding of seasonality through various plantings throughout the year. “
“In addition to the Salad Celebration, the MAS PTA provides Snack Mondays and Fruity Fridays throughout the year. We also hosted a Crunchy Carnival and a Food Play assembly to help educate our students about their food choices,” adds Kathleen Gallaher, PTA Co-President. “Through all of the our health and wellness programs the PTA supports throughout the year, we hope to establish lifelong healthy nutrition and fitness habits.”