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Slow Food & Public School Gardens: Denver Food Tour Part I

November 23, 2010

The Food and Environment group of the American Pubic Health Association organized a Food Systems Tour in Denver just before their annual conference.  Calling all foodies!

School garden volunteer

Our first stop was a school in the beautiful, affluent Cherry Creek neighborhood within the Denver Public School system.  Despite wide socioeconomic variance, almost every school in this far-spanning district has a garden.   Growing food and eating sustainably has become part of the school curriculum.  At this school, every student is involved.

What about the cost to the tax payers?  What about the financial bottom line?  Overall, it has saved money.

We arrived by bus at one school’s garden.  Here, the students work with a volunteer (the volunteer for this school has a culinary background!) to grow food and sell it back to their school district.  The school district in turn uses it in their cafeteria to feed the kids that grew it.  Wow.

This school hosted us for not only a tour and education session, but for lunch!   Rebecca Kein, who organized the tour, sent out the menu before the tour:

Beef stew (Ranch foods natural beef, local carrots, potatoes, onions)
Pumpkin Bread (using pumpkin from Centennial’s garden)
Vegetarian option—smothered bean burritos (we will do some with cheese, some without—Ready Foods green chile with local jalapenos and onions, Ready Foods beans, tortillas from Mission Foods in Denver)

Butternut squash roasted with wacky apples (local squash, processed at Mrs. Condies, local apples)

My lunch!

Salad bar:
Wacky apples: yellow delicious and Jonagolds
Green salad: with local spinach, red cabbage and non-local tomatoes
Coleslaw: traditional or Asian coleslaw with local green and red cabbage
Yellow/green squash: local squash from Millberger Farms with local carrots
Watermelon: supposedly we can still get some from Colorado from Andrews

The school garden movement here came out of the Slow Food movement.  Slow Food is an international non-profit that was  founded in 1989 in Piedmont, Italy.  They focus on the pleasure of local food traditions in an ethical way.  Their vision is “a world in which all people can access and enjoy food that is good for them, good for those who grow it and good for the planet”. The international, US, or Denver website are not only inspiring, but great resources.  Buon appetito!

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