Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Celebrating Farm to Schools Month at Absegami


Hello everyone! Sorry for the delay in posts, the beginning of the school year is so busy it flies by. I can promise that there has been plenty of action in the gardens since the last post and we are well over 800 pounds of harvested produce for this year. Two weeks ago we made an appearance at the Go Green Galloway Farmers Market and received over $100.00 in donations for our produce. That day we featured tomatoes, peppers, farm fresh eggs, Swiss Chard, carrots, and an array of herbs. Thank you to all of the community members who came out to support us and learn some information about the garden.

Students began school ready to work and they have been busy; building new raised beds, cleaning out beds for winter, and planting our fall/winter crops. The hens are doing well and are producing over a dozen eggs a week. Today, October 3rd, we celebrated Farm to Schools month with two events at the school. First, we hosted a chef demo, farm discussion, and healthy eating lesson courtesy of the AtlantiCare Healthy Schools Healthy Children Chefs in schools program. This program brings local chefs and farmers to schools to discuss the importance of gardening, local produce, and healthy eating. We were honored to have Gami grad and local Chef Nicole LaTorre from Eat Clean Org on site to work with students to create a delicious Ratatouille dish. Students were reluctant to try some of the vegetables in the dish but many were asking for seconds after their first bite. It was another delicious dish prepared by Chef Nicole. In addition, Valerie Behrens from Impact Harvest joined us to discuss her work in the community growing and donating fresh produce to those in need. Finally, Christine Guzman from AtlantiCare was on site to review healthy eating habits and provide guidance on alternatives to the numerous unhealthy foods students are exposed to on a daily basis. All three presenters provided an awesome experience for our Urban Farming and AP Environmental students and they walked away with a great new recipe as well as information on volunteering in the community and getting involved with locally grown foods.

To continue our focus on farm to school, the culinary club and Chef LaRocca hosted the Gami After Hours students for a healthy eating demo using produce from our school gardens. Chef LaRocca made a delicious and filling Buddha Bowl featuring Quinoa, Swiss Chard, Spinach, Garlic, Scallions, and poached eggs finished with a drizzle of sesame oil and rice vinegar. As she prepared the meal, she reviewed the tenets of nutrition, engaged the students in conversation, and demonstrated easy cooking techniques that can be used at home. As this was not a dish many students had before, it was fun to see them trying something new and enjoying the new flavors. A special thanks to the culinary club for hosting today and we hope to see you again soon.

As you can see it has been a busy start to the year and we are only a month in. Stay tuned for some exciting new things that will be happening in our gardens this year and we hope to welcome some new residents come spring 2018!!

Don't forget to join us on Saturday October 14th for our Absegami Open House from 10-1. We will be offering garden tours and food samples in our culinary kitchen. We hope to see you then!

AtlantiCare Presentation: Chefs in Schools

Buddha Bowl featuring Gami Fresh Produce
Daily Haul from September 2017

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Farm to Table: Gami Garden Edition



Hello everyone! I hope you are all having a restful summer and gathering some delicious fruits and vegetables in your home gardens. Here at the Gami Garden we have been busy all season long harvesting and maintaining our two school gardens. I can't thank enough the countless student, staff, and community volunteers who have come out each Thursday ready to work even in the hot summer sun. As of July 27th, our total crop yield was 360 pounds of non-GMO, organic, ready to eat produce. Based on staff feedback, the purple potatoes were a hit as were the squash blossoms! Tomato and pepper season is in full swing and we plan to serve up fresh tomato juice and hot pepper jelly as we move into September. Stop in any Thursday morning to check out the harvest and perhaps take some home to enjoy yourself.

One of our projects for this upcoming school year is to create a farm-to-table cookbook with recipes from students and staff that utilize the products from the garden. That task is quickly coming to fruition as many have already submitted recipes and pictures of their creations. The cookbook will make a great gift and we are hoping to have it ready for purchase in late fall! Below are some pictures and captions of two dishes that used products from last weeks harvest as well as some photos from last week's bounty.  The Farm to Table movement has truly come to Absegami and we can't wait to try new/creative dishes this late summer and fall. If you have a recipe you want to submit, please email it to rschmid@gehrhsd.net.  More to come later!! Enjoy the last few weeks of summer.

Ron

Fresh Tomato Sauce:
We used our Vittorio strainer to to get fresh tomato juice
 then cooked it down with garlic and basil from the garden.
 The sauce had a great fresh flavor and was perfect over ravioli 

Fried Squash Blossom: Gently clean the flowers with a dry towel,
stuff them with your favorite cheese combination, dredge in batter
and lightly fry.  These are delicious! Thanks Kerry Flukey


July 27th, 2017 Harvest 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Summer is coming! May 10th Garden Update


It was a crazy day in the Absegami Gardens with work starting at 7:30 and going right through to the end of the day. Mrs. Flukey had a jam-packed schedule and serious plan going into today, and I think we were almost able to accomplish everything on the list with a few final touches needed tomorrow.

We were pleased with the results (see photos below) and got a lot accomplished thanks to the help of students and staff. A special thanks to Mr. Bell, Mrs. Gergler, Ms. Strigh, Mrs. Baker, Mr. Reilly, Mr. Harritopulos, and, of course, Mrs. Flukey who provided students each period and were not afraid to get their own hands dirty as well. I would estimate well over 100 students assisted with the tasks today and the gardens are almost ready for summer. After weeding and cleaning out all of the beds we were ready to plant our warm weather plants and pick some more of our spinach, radishes, lettuce, and turnip greens.

The following went in the ground today: 8 varieties of tomatoes, 6 varieties of peppers, butternut squash, basil, zucchini, cucumber, sunflowers, parsley, pumpkin, and melons. It's gonna be a tasty summer.  Enjoy the pictures below and feel free to shoot me an email with questions or if you would like to set up a visit.

Ron

We also have to send a big thank you to AtlantiCare, Sustainable Jersey for Schools, Slow Food USA, and all of our community partners who have been great working with us to get plants, seeds, soil, and everything else we need to make these spaces a reality. The local community has been extremely supportive and we couldn't be more grateful for your support.  

Top Left: Students cleaning around beds in preparation for marigold planting
Bottom Left: View of our raised beds with newly planted tomatoes
Top Right: Plants left over for staff plant sale
Bottom Right: A few of our students during early morning work

Beds were cleaned and summer crops planted intermixed with spinach and radishes. 

Beautiful Potato plants donated by Slow Food USA

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

March/April in the Absegami Gardens


Absegami Gardens Update: 5/3/17

Hello again everyone!  Many people have been reaching out to see how the gardens are coming along and we have been so busy that I've been unable to post since early March. We have had a productive start to spring and all of our plants are either in the ground or ready for planting once we harvest our cooler weather crops. I have to say that the number of staff members and students helping this year has really allowed us to maximize our growing time and continually provide fresh produce to be enjoyed by all. We have had numerous classes out to weed, plant, water, and provide general maintenance to the beds. Chris Bell and Jimmy Harritopulous were instrumental in helping prepare the gardens; picking up and dumping soil, fixing beds, and planting. Mrs. Baker, Mrs. Gergler, Mr. Matousch, Mrs. Strigh and many others have been out in the garden frequently to assist with care and of course, Mrs. Flukey has been non-stop coordinating planting, seed starting in green house, watering, weeding, and all other tasks that come with the management of 2 fully functioning gardens. Even with all the planting and growing work, we found time to welcome home 6 baby chickens that will live in our gardens and provide farm fresh eggs to accompany the produce. The chickens are getting big and have just moved to their coop permanently.  Last week we were able to pick 10 bags of spinach and lettuce, 5 bags of radishes, and a bunch of fresh thyme and oregano. Each week we have new products to offer and what is not scooped up by students and staff has been used in our culinary program.  Nothing goes to waste!!  Please enjoy the pictures below and keep checking the blog for more!! If you are interested in receiving fresh produce, please let us know.  For a small donation, we have a number of crops to provide.

~ Ron
















Friday, April 7, 2017

Spring Garden Update


The Absegami sustainability team and science students have been hard at work over the last few weeks getting the gardens ready for spring and summer. Since last post, we readied all garden beds and completed the first planting of the following:


  • Beets
  • Yellow Onions
  • Red Onions
  • Chard
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Potatoes
  • Green Onions
  • Turnips
  • Carrots
  • Radishes 
  • Herbs

In addition, up in the Green House, we have all of our seedlings coming up nicely for our summer crops, which include; tomatoes, peppers, herbs, melons, squash, cucumber, and many others. As if there wasn't enough work to do in both gardens, we decided to add a chicken coop to the mix and have recently begun raising 6 chickens. The coop will fit nicely in our sustainable garden and we can't wait to get the chickens in there later this spring.  



In the meantime, the chickens are nice and cozy up in our science wing and getting to know all of our students.  It's gonna be a great summer at Absegami!!!



Monday, February 27, 2017

When it's 70 degrees in February....Prepping the Garden for spring planting.


As I am sure many of you did, we took full advantage of our beautiful February spring like weather last week. This year we are expanding our garden into a new courtyard so we had plenty of work to do including cleaning out old raised beds and filling with new top soil, tilling our beds from last year, extending our pollination garden, and installing a cold frame so we can begin the planting process now. We had the help of over 40 amazing students and teachers and a lot was accomplished in a short period of time. Inside, our Green House is already filling with seedlings that should be ready for transplant throughout the spring. I will post pictures throughout the season, but take a look at all we did last week below.








Friday, September 23, 2016

Fall is here in the Absegami Sustainable Garden


To take a line from Game of Thrones....."Winter Fall is Coming" Finally!

The Absegami garden is abuzz with a fall harvest and planting. The pics below show some of our pickings from this week as well as our first set of the pumpkins we planted in April. Students in Biology, Environmental Science, and Sustainability have been out doing scavenger hunts, collecting samples, and identifying organisms present in the garden, and harvesting for our culinary department. We planted beets, spinach, and lettuce all of which are already producing usable plants. See the pics below and look out for more information!!

 A few sunflower samples....
                                    Casper and Orange                                                                     Pumpkins











In addition, we are proud to announce that, last week, our Culinary students were able to make homemade Pesto with Basil from the garden and sell it to staff. We were able to make over 10 jars of Pesto. More information on products to come....