Family Food Day at Pine Cobble School touts local, whole foods


WILLIAMSTOWN — Pine Cobble School sixth-graders Maddy Turton, Kayla McGrath and Elli Miles joined some of their classmates in touting free samples of applesauce during the school's annual Family Food Day, which celebrates locally sourced whole foods.

They made it themselves.

"We picked some apples at my teacher's house," Maddy said. "We peeled them, cut them up in slices, boiled them and mashed them up."

Some were mixed with pears, and others with cinnamon, she added.

"Then we put it in jars and boiled the jars to seal them," Kayla said.

"It tastes really good, but I think it's better when it's hot," Elli noted.

The sixth-graders carried trays with small sample cups full of their apple sauce among dozens of attendees of the event, who could visit with local farmers and vendors of organic, locally grown foods.

Across the room at another table, Maureen Namkoong, a nutrition counselor with Simple Sustainable Health, was showing youngsters how to make cream using a small jar, a marble and a little fresh cream. By putting the marble in the jar with the cream and shaking it for roughly five minutes, the cream mixes with the air and whipped cream results.

There was a constant stream of little jar shakers meandering through the crowd before buzzing back to the table to try their whipped cream on apple slices.

"It's a win for them as far as the experience of it, and they get a reward in the end," Namkoong said. "And they're invested in the process."

The event provides a focus for the young students as they spend much of their time on fresh food-related activities as part of their curriculum, said Pine Cobble science teacher Julie Levine, who organized Family Food Day.

"We try to get them familiar with where their food comes from," she said.

Pre-K teacher Lynn Bizzi spends all year doing just that — but in reverse order, she said.

When school starts in the fall, she said, the pre-K class harvests what was planted the previous spring, and they organize it and decide how best to use the various crops, like corn, potatoes, carrots, beets, string beans, kale and zucchini. When winter comes, they decide what to grow in the spring and paint signs that will mark the various crops. And in the spring, they plant the garden and watch it start to grow.

"We strategize about the harvesting, they dig out the potatoes themselves, and we use the harvest throughout the year," Bizzi said. "And they absolutely love it. It's as natural as it gets — kids and soil just go together."

And once they see the process, take part in it and become invested in it, they wind up wanting to eat vegetables, Bizzi said.

"One of my students came over and asked, 'Can I have some kale?' And he tore off a leaf and walked away munching on it," she said.

Contact Scott Stafford at 413-496-6301.


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