Cucumber Crunch event teaches J.D. Parker Elementary students about fresh, local vegetables

Photo by J.D. Parker Elementary

More than 750 students at J.D. Parker Elementary in Stuart, Fla., celebrated National Farm to School month in October 2016 by participating in “Cucumber Crunch.”

The lunchtime event, led by the UF/IFAS Extension Family Nutrition Program (FNP) is named for the actual in-unison lunchroom-wide C-R-U-N-C-H on farm fresh cucumber slices. It aimed to teach the students about the benefits of fresh, locally grown produce, and bring people together from various parts of the Martin County food system.

Michael Meier, farmer and owner of Ground Floor Farm in Stuart, said:

“For me, the greatest impact for the day was having a platform as a small farmer to educate the children on where their food comes from. It was important to provide these children a product which, because it is local, is also fresher, more nutritious and tastes better.”

The event was a success thanks to the collaborative efforts of Martin County School District Food and Nutrition Services, local produce supplier Robert Erneston Produce Inc., the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), and FNP.

Chef Anthony Polito of Polito Catering, Stuart, and Chef Paula Kendrick, FDACS, also contributed by preparing dishes for the students using locally sourced ingredients from Ground Floor and Fort Pierce K&M Farms.

After lunch, the fifth grade garden club even planted cucumber seedlings in the school’s garden with help from FNP, creating an environmental change to the culture of the school by giving the students access to garden education throughout the year.