Health in Motion: Community Day School Farm Stand
This article is a part of a series called Health in Motion brought you by Let’s Move Pittsburgh. Health in Motion is intended to showcase the efforts of schools and community organizations in the Pittsburgh region who are leading children to a healthier future. A new project with a guest author or interviewee will be featured each month. Let’s Move Pittsburgh hopes that Health in Motion will encourage leaders to adopt healthy programs in their communities and inspire readers to make healthy changes in their own lives.
Josh Friedman has a master’s degree in experiential education from the Jewish Theological Seminary. His most transformative educational experiences have been working for the Teva Learning Center, running the outdoor program at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires, and raising his three kids.
This fall, the Community Day School (CDS) Farm Stand after-school program took students on a hands-on journey of discovery all the way from farm to market to table.
Now in its second year, our program was made possible through a grant from the Let’s Move Pittsburgh Champion Schools Program in the “Teach Kids to Grow and Cook Food” category. CDS students in Grades 2-5 explored topics including composting, agriculture, Jewish farming practices, laws and values, food justice and food distribution. They enjoyed educational visits from a fellow from Repair the World Pittsburgh whose service work is focused on food justice and a wild edibles expert from Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens―and they spent plenty of time getting their hands dirty outside in the CDS Jewish holiday-themed gardens.
One favorite activity was “w-eating”―that is, a hike on our campus spent eating any edible weeds we could find. A scavenger hunt at the Squirrel Hill Farmers Market helped the students become familiar with our food distribution system, the benefits of eating local, and the wide variety of fresh produce available.
Our major project involved setting up a stand at the market to sell kosher smoothies prepared using a bike-powered blender we constructed. That morning, the students worked together as a team to come up with marketing strategies to drum up sales and mastered the physical challenge of pedaling a bike to make smoothies. They honed their knife skills and learned about the costs of running a business. They recognized there are alternative forms of energy that don’t harm our planet and they experienced the joy of fulfilling the Jewish mitzvah (good deed) of tzedakah (justice). All proceeds were donated to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and the Animal Rescue League as per the children’s decision.
For our final session, we prepared a delicious vegan dinner in the school kitchen using produce grown in our campus gardens and purchased from the market, including kale chips, stir-fried veggies, and applesauce. The students had the opportunity to showcase their culinary skills and new Farm Stand knowledge by enjoying the meal together with their parents outside in the school’s Sukkah (a temporary hut constructed for the week-long Jewish harvest holiday of Sukkot).
We look forward to our Farm Stand students taking a leadership role in the sustainability efforts at CDS and to inspiring their friends and family to make healthier choices that benefit their bodies and our planet.