Grab a carrot and join students across the Klamath County School District on Oct. 21 for the fourth annual Countdown to Crunch in celebration of National Farm to School Month.
In past years, students have crunched Oregon-grown apples and Klamath-grown spinach. This year, Kent Simons from Simple Gifts Farm and Jordan Rainwater from Belweather Farm are supplying the district with more than 4,000 fresh carrots for the Klamath Carrot Crunch.
While KCSD students crunch in their classrooms or cafeterias, Healthy Klamath is inviting other students and community members to join the celebration by registering at https://info.bluezonesproject.com/klamath-community-crunch-2021.
Carrot seeds were planted in July for harvest in mid-October, but the concept of growing local carrots for schools was planted years ago, according to Patty Case, OSU Extension Service educator.
“We’ve talked about the logistics of getting local carrots in the schools for years. Kent and Jordan have worked with the district every step of the way — testing storage quality and size of carrots,” Case said. “They even accommodated our request to keep the green tops on so the kids could see what a real carrot looks like.”
Simons started Simple Gifts Farm in 2015 and grows more than 40 varieties of vegetables, melons, and berries on his half-acre plot just a couple of blocks from Stearns Elementary School in the south suburbs. He sells his produce at the Klamath Falls Farmers Market, Klamath Farmers Online Marketplace and through a CSA, a community supported agriculture subscription service.
When asked what he likes about growing carrots, Simons responded: “Harvesting. Everything else is hard.”
“Carrots grow well in the Klamath Basin but take time to sprout, thin, weed, harvest and clean,” he said. “Carrots are a mystery. You don’t know what you have until you pull it out of the ground.”
Rainwater, who also will provide schools with carrots harvested from her Keno-area farm, coordinates Farm to School efforts for the Klamath County School District.
“This event is designed to acknowledge local growers who have joined the effort to feed our youth,” she said. “On average, a food travels about 1,500 miles to get to our community. These carrots came from farms located just a short drive from area schools. The annual Countdown to Crunch helps students understand where their food comes from and supports our local growers and economy.”
Community members who want to participate can purchase Oregon-grown carrots at local grocery stores, or at the Saturday Klamath Falls Farmers Market and online at www.kfom.org.
For more information on the local farms supplying the carrots to schools, go to their social media pages: SimpleGiftsFarmKlamathFalls on Facebook and @belweatherfarmsisawesome on Instagram and Facebook.