Three thousand four hundred and thirty six. That number represents the pounds of locally grown organic produce that we have worked hard to provide for Brunswick, Maine schools since 2012. This past week Schools in Brunswick received our final installment of carrots and beets for the winter. In our nearly 18 month relationship working with the Brunswick Schools we have collaborated to invest over $6,000 into our local economy by purchasing goods from the dedicated farmers at Six River Farm (Bowdoinham, Maine) and Fairwinds Farm (Topsham, Maine). As we look back to celebrate the relative successes we’ve experienced over this period a new challenge is on the forefront:
How will we continue to support investment in locally foods in our schools?
We knew at FoodCycle, that eventually, the time would come that our financial resources would run out. After aggressively fundraising during parts of 2011 and throughout our cross country ride in 2012 we decided to focus our emphasis on implementing a purchasing and delivery model when we returned home. We have collaborated with school administrators and farmers, facilitating exciting working relationships that hadn’t previously existed. The reality however is that we have funded these food purchases 100% from the generous contributions of our supporters, people like you. Now the real work begins. Knowing now that a local food system as abundant and accessible as ours is in the Midcoast can provide higher quality foods for our schools-how do we keep the momentum? How do we implore our municipal, state and federal governments to create incentives to opt into local food systems instead of food commodities programs?
The next phase will be a challenging one, but we’re excited to take up the fight.
.-The FoodCycle Team
Unbelievable to think that today marks the one year anniversary of our journey’s beginning. 365 days ago we left a small gathering of friends and set off on our first of what would be 107 days of learning and living while cycling across the USA. It’s with this special date in mind that we are happy to provide tangible numbers that connect the generous donations we received to the locally grown foods being served in public schools in Brunswick, Maine.
2012-13 School lunch purchases (All items locally sourced *denotes MOFGA certified Organic)
1,780 lbs *Carrots
300 lbs Potatoes
190 lbs *Beets
160 lbs *Squash
60 lbs *Cabbage
With 40% of our initial funds in tact we hope to provide an assortment of fresh summer vegetables and greens for the beginning of next school year while continuing to create future opportunities for growth, education, collaboration and sustainable forms of funding.
As we settle into a familiar winter slumber in New England and await our inevitable march away from the sun, we are happy to report a lot of activity in creating access to local organic foods for Maine’s School Children. Working with local School Nutrition Directors, Teachers and Administrators as well as Six River Farm (Bowdoinham, Maine) and Fairwinds Farm (Topsham, Maine) we have established monthly farm visits to pick up produce that will fortify school lunch menus district wide. Utilizing the funds generated from individuals and organizations across the United States we have established a monthly purchasing and pick up schedule that will ultimately infuse $8,000 into the local economy. By supporting the fruits of diversified small-scale agriculture we aim to influence regional school nutrition reform and create positive and healthy learning alternatives for children grades K-5 in Brunswick, Maine. To date we have successfully purchased and delivered:
650 lbs Organic Carrots
160 lbs Organic Winter Squash (Acorn & Butternut)
150 lbs Organic Potatoes (Russett & Chieftan)
100 lbs Organic Beets
40 lbs of Organic Cabbage
In total we hope to deliver over 1 ton of locally grown produce by the coming spring. As the weather warms and the soil is again ready to be tilled we will working with Six River to grow early spring greens and tomatoes for the end of the 2012-13 school year.
Today we visited out friends at Six River Farm in Bowdoinham, picking up our first of three fall produce orders.
Today we grabbed:
500# Carrots, 60# Cabbage, 40# Beets, 40# Butternut Squash, 40# Acorn Squash
That’s nearly 700 pounds of organic, locally sourced vegetables for students at Harriet Beecher Stowe Elementary (and other schools throughout the district)!
After some gentle prodding from our friend and FoodCycle supporter John, we have decided to explain where FoodCycle stands at the moment and what plans we have moving forward.
After a meeting last week with Scott Smith (School Nutrition Director for Brunswick and MSAD 75 Schools) we established delivery dates and quantities for seasonal and organic produce from Six River Farm (Bowdoinham, Maine). The farmers at Six River, Nate and Gabrielle, have been friends since we began to promote our intention of creating access to sustainable foods in schools, and from the outset they have wanted to help. This week we will be pick up over 500 pounds of organic produce and we’ve set dates for pick up in December and January.
As the food begins to make its way on to local school lunch trays we will be working with classroom teachers to introduce the new and colorful (and not to mention delicious!) foods that they will now have access to. The better we can encourage kitchen staff to prepare these foods in creative and informative ways the more success we anticipate having in changing how students envision lunch.
Though we have not raised our goal of $10,000 we have been successful in mobilizing a strong base of community support-and national coverage from our cross country bike ride-as well as over $8,000! We’ll be working to provide an additional income to the farmers of Six River of over $3,200 this fall from the produce that we purchase. Working with local farmers to establish additional sources of income that directly support local foods in schools is likely an area where FoodCycle will concentrate its efforts moving forward.
Pictures of our first fall pick up coming soon!
After 107 days on the road and 83 days biking we dipped our tires in Tomales Bay, California! More photos, facts and fun stories to come.