Sustainable Living: Going Off the Grid

Project Overview

YENC10-030
Project Type: Youth Educator
Funds awarded in 2010: $1,962.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2013
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Manager:
Diana J. Woodworth
Sheboygan Falls School District

Commodities

  • Fruits: berries (blueberries), grapes
  • Vegetables: asparagus, beans, carrots, peas (culinary), peppers, cucurbits, tomatoes
  • Additional Plants: herbs

Practices

  • Crop Production: food product quality/safety
  • Education and Training: demonstration, mentoring, youth education
  • Farm Business Management: marketing management, farm-to-institution, value added
  • Sustainable Communities: leadership development, community services

    Abstract:

    BACKGROUND
    We had an 11 acre farm where we grew apple, pear, cherry, and plum trees. We had grapevines, raspberries, herbs, and a three-acre garden. We had our farm set up as an entrepreneur project/4-H project for our children. They sold what we grew and we added value to our food, and I taught them how to can. I am a culinary teacher and I took my fruits and vegetables to my classes and began to teach my students what I taught my children, which was to try to be sustainable by growing your own food.

    Educate students about sustainable agriculture:
    In Culinary class and Agriculture class, we have curriculum for our students about sustainability and it is discussed frequently throughout the year as we use the vegetables we have grown. Students learned how to cook with the foods they planted. They also learned how to can the foods into jams, salsas, pickles, and how to make quick breads, as well as freeze green beans, peas, etc. for soups.

    GOALS
    • To learn about local sustainable agriculture practices in Agriculture Culinary Arts and Technology classes.
    • Create a project for students to apply what they are learning by working as a group to build a sustainable agriculture project whose purpose was to create gardens on school property. They would plot, plan, plant, grow, harvest, cook, process by canning, and add value to foods so they can be eaten throughout the year.
    • Learn how to market the items they grow, can, or bake into their food and sell them to our community members and to put on the lunch line at school.

    PROCESS
    The agriculture teacher, Bruce Brenner, and I joined forces as agriculture and Culinary are so closely related; they grow it, we harvest and cook what we grow. We recruited interested students in our classes. We planned a work day in the spring for preparing beds, bringing in soil, raking and then plotting what we would grow, laying woodchips, building trellises, and raised beds. We formed a summer group of very interested students who planted, weeded, watered, helped purchase plants (berries, grapes). When they were ready to harvest, the students picked, and set up a few farm markets to sell. They made products such as quick breads, canned jams, salsas, pickles.

    PEOPLE
    Bruce Brenner – Agriculture teacher
    Jean Born – District Administrator, supported and encouraged the program
    Mary Pat Carlson – Farm Market Kitchen, provided info on food processing
    Craig Harms – Restoration Gardens
    Ed Hughes – Tech. Ed teacher, built the “Cornucopia” building to sell our produce, etc.

    RESULTS
    Socially responsible – raised awareness on planting; using what we grow, how to prepare the produce, how to add value, how to feed their own families as they grow and mature.
    Profitable – each student was asked to focus on an area that interested them the most, create a business plan, implement, sell, and see the possibilities of becoming an entrepreneur.

    DISCUSSION
    Learned: It was constant for all individuals involved. Students learned about work and how hard it was at times, without seeing end results immediately. Weeding was needed over and over again, watering too. We had a drought the first summer, and so much of what we did dried up and did not recover. Students learned about leadership, self-motivation, how to apply what they learned in the field. They learned about career options and what they will need to do to educate and prepare themselves for that career.

    Were results what was expected? Yes for some students; others gave up because “work” was too hard, too hot, they could not see the end results, or were not willing to work towards that goal.

    OUTREACH
    • Sharing information: Students went to local farm market to sell and create awareness of what they were doing.
    • Students participated in several culinary competitions where the focus was on the “Fall Harvest.” They had to create and cook with a local celebrity chef using what they grew.
    • Students created a menu for the “Fall Harvest” event and cooked and served the dinner for 200 people.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.