Grab a carrot and join students across the Klamath County School District on Oct. 27 for the fifth annual Countdown to Crunch in celebration of National Farm to School Month.
More than 3,270 students from 12 schools will countdown together and crunch into locally grown carrots produced by local farmer Kent Simons, owner of Simple Gifts Farm on Crest Street in Klamath Falls.
In past years, students have crunched Oregon-grown apples and Klamath-grown spinach. This is the second year Simons will supply the district with thousands of fresh carrots for the annual Countdown to Crunch event.
The event is a fun way to celebrate farmers who grow food and to connect youth with local food, said OSU Extension educator Patty Case, who started the Crunch five years ago. “In this community, everyone knows a farmer or someone that works on a farm. We hope students make the connection between the people that grow their food and the food they eat in the cafeteria. Many students tell us, ‘local food tastes better’, and we agree.”
Simons has enjoyed growing food for this community on his half-acre plot down the street from Stearns Elementary School. He has provided fresh greens and, of course, crunchy carrots to serve at local schools. The Crunch carrots will be his last big harvest as he’s selling his farm and moving out of the area to be closer to family. He has fulfilled his dream for which his farm was named.
“I’ve used my labor and ingenuity to transform the simple gifts of nature — fertile soil, plenty of sunshine, life-giving water and miraculous seeds — into healthy, nutritious food for the community,” he said.
Jordan Rainwater, Farm to School project coordinator for the Klamath County School District, said Simons willingness to grow and supply healthy food to schools for the past several years will be missed.
“We appreciate Mr. Simons for sharing his passion and knowledge with students,” she said “We wish him the best, and will certainly miss him being part of KCSD’s Farm to School community.”
The Crunch event is just one way the school district continues to demonstrate its commitment to Farm to School programming, both at the school and district levels. Throughout the year, the district’s Food Services Team supports Farm to School through its procurement and promotion of local foods, pursuit of grant funding opportunities, and support of agriculture education.
“We are fortunate to have employees throughout the district championing Farm to School efforts,” Rainwater said.
KCSD Nutrition Services Supervisor Jennifer Detwiler is one such champion, working hard behind-the-scenes to advance and sustain the district’s Farm to School goals.
“With Farm to School celebrations occurring across the nation this month, we should be proud of what we’re accomplishing at the local level,” she said. “The Countdown to Crunch event is a wonderful way to highlight the many benefits of investing in Farm to School.”