Mountain View Whisman School District and Living Classroom Recognized for "Farm to School" Efforts

GoldenSeedAward 1200WMVWSD’s Food and Nutrition Services, in partnership with Living Classroom, recently earned a “Grow” honorable mention Golden Seed award from the California Farm to School Network (CFSN) for doing excellent ‘farm to school’ work.

The award recognizes the District’s partnership with Living Classrooms on the “Farm to Lunch” program that combines the hands-on experience of growing food with the health benefits of better eating. Students from the Beyond the Bell after school program plant vegetables in more than 20 raised planter beds across several MVWSD schools, including Crittenden and Theuerkauf.  The District also gets a delivery every Friday from a local farmer who is a member of Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF). This local- and school-grown produce is featured in tasty dishes several times a month on menus at all schools.

“This work enhances the health and the nutritional knowledge of our children, allowing them to make good choices in life,” said District Food Services Director Debbie Austin.

“The award recognizes both the amazing transformation of Food and Nutrition Services to fresh and locally sourced food and the great partnership with the Living Classroom ‘Farm to Lunch’ program,” said Vicki Moore, Living Classroom Education Director.

The Golden Seed Awards recognize farm to school champions and foster recognition of California schools and districts that are beginning to grow their farm to school programs. Applicants were evaluated on their unique and innovative programs as well as their contributions to the three pillars of farm to school: procurement, education and gardens.

CFSN is a project of CAFF, a California nonprofit organization that builds sustainable food and farming systems through policy advocacy and on-the-ground programs. CFSN honored winners across 11 regions and three award categories, including Sow, Grow and Harvest. In addition, nearly 20 schools and districts were recognized with honorable mentions.

For more information about CAFF and its Farm to School program, please visit:

Community Volunteers At Work!

In May and June, the Living Classroom native habitat and edible gardens at Theuerkauf School in Mountain View reaped the benefits of volunteers from Google and the Mountain View Rotary Club. Volunteers cleared the edible garden beds, added new, rich soil, and installed top notch drip emitter irrigation tubing to allow for planting of warm season fruits and vegetables for the Farm to Lunch Program. Others built a new garden shed and cut back invasive ivy. Dozens of volunteers also planted 150 plants, installed 23 plant signs, installed drip irrigation lines, and spread mulch for the expanded native habitat garden. A big thank you to Google and the Mountain View Rotary Club for their huge help and making the gardens bigger, better and more beautiful for the students and staff at Theuerkauf School.

20160629 Rotary Club spreading fresh soil in planter box

20160629 MV Rotary placing tree rounds for student seating

Farm to Lunch Harvests Reach 2,700 students!

The Farm to Lunch program, where students plant, harvest and eat organic produce grown on Mountain View school campuses, ended the school year with 400 pounds of cool season veggies harvested and 2,700 students enjoying delicious dishes prepared by Mountain View Whisman School District chef Bob Mencimer. Living Classroom garden manager Patti Berryhill spearheads the Farm to Lunch program and teaches the students from the Beyond the Bell afterschool programs at Crittenden and Theuerkauf schools, how to plant, maintain, harvest and wash the produce which is taken immediately to the school districts kitchen for serving to students the next day. She also organized 13 different taste testings rotating to every school in the District where students learned about where the special dishes, like sautéed bok choy or kale salad, came from.

As the Farm to Lunch program will have a full 2016-17 school year to grow and harvest (last year started in November, this year we finished warm season plantings in June) we are planning to about double the produce harvested and hold many more taste testings to reach almost every one of the 5,000 plus students in Mountain View.

Thank you to the El Camino Healthcare District Community Benefit program for funding the Farm to Lunch program and to the Mountain View Whisman School District kitchen staff for preparing wonderful dishes from the school grown produce!


Thank You to Recent Donors!

Ologo LACF TGCOPAur thanks go to the Los Altos Community Foundation and the Palo Alto Garden Club for their recent contributions to Living Classroom.
The $7,500 grant from the Los Altos Community Foundation will fund a portion of our Next Generation Science and Common Core alignment work to assure that all of our lessons are optimized to meet these new California State Standards. The Palo Alto Garden Club’s $6,000 grant will cover a portion of our school garden maintenance and materials costs for our five Palo Alto schools and cover the purchase, planting, and signage for additional California native milkweed plants (Asclepias fascicularis) which is locally native food for the caterpillars of the Monarch butterfly.

Crittenden Junior High students harvest Kale on their school campus for their school lunches.

What’s cookin’? Student-grown produce prepared into special dishes served to Mountain View students during lunch.

Living Classroom, in partnership with the Mountain View Whisman School District (MVWSD) and through a grant from the El Camino Healthcare District Community Benefit Program, has created a new “Farm to Lunch” program in Mountain View that combines the hands-on experience of growing food with the health benefits of better eating. Students from the Beyond the Bell after school program planted vegetables in more than 20 raised planter beds across several MVWSD schools, including Crittenden and Theuerkauf.

2016 more kale harvestAt a recent taste-test at Crittenden, almost 250 servings of kale chips and kale salad were consumed. An informal survey of the kids showed that many “loved it” and no-one “hated it”!

Ten winter vegetables will be harvested in coming weeks including broccoli, turnips, bok choy, Swiss chard, spinach, lettuce, beets, sugar snap peas, kale and potatoes.  The MVWSD Central Kitchen staff, including Chef Bob Mencimer, are up to the challenge of creating tasty and nutritious dishes that students will like and, through exposure to their own school edible gardens, connect more directly with the sources of healthy food.

The school-grown produce will be featured several times a month on menus at all schools on a rotating basis so that every student has the opportunity to try the dishes prepared from the Mountain View School’s garden produce.

See links below for articles about the Farm to Lunch program and Green Schoolyards

Below are garden beds from Crittenden School featuring broccoli soon to be harvested and kale after the initial harvest

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"Farm to Lunch" garden sign at Crittenden School (also one at Theuerkauf School)

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The goal of the program is to introduce students to a variety of fruits and vegetables, teach about healthy eating, and get kids outdoors to experience nature and move their bodies!

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Below:  Chef Bob Mencimer and The Lunch Trust consultant Adam Kesselman serve two types of Kale to Crittenden students.

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Three new Native Habitat Gardens for Palo Alto Schools!

IMG ElCarmeloNativeGardenWorkDayThis past fall, three new California Native Habitat gardens were installed at El Carmelo, Barron Park and Duveneck schools in Palo Alto, just in time to host our fall lessons on habitats and ethnobotany. Each new garden hosts about 30 species of native plants and includes outdoor seating for an entire class.

IMG ParentsSAPvolunteersandstudentshelpingoutatElCarmeloThanks to the SAP Corporation for their help with planting and sign installation at El Carmelo School and for making 6 garden observation posting signs. Students, teachers and others will post their observations, photos, and other information about the happenings in the native gardens including wildlife sightings and seasonal changes.

Living Classroom presents at Nueva School Innovations in Education Conference

Living Classroom presents at Nueva School Innovations in Education Conference

Living Classroom’s Education Director Vicki Moore presented “Garden-based education’s role in sustainability, wellness, and science education” to area educators during the bi-annual Nueva School’s Innovative Learning Conference. At this conference, educators, community members, parents and innovators from around the country convene to discuss and share ideas about many of the most challenging and critical issues facing education. Living Classroom was honored to be invited to this prestigious conference!