Associated funds TMS ploy to get students to eat their vegetables
By Jed Buelow
Tomahawk Leader Co-Editor, Sports, Nature Editor
As the students went from vendor to vendor filling their shopping bags with freshly picked produce, the Farm to Table field trip taken Tuesday in downtown Tomahawk really did become full circle.
Earlier in the day the 85 third graders from St. Mary’s School and Tomahawk Elementary had visited Grace Lutheran Church’s Garden of Giving where green-thumb grower John Kromm shared with the group how some of the plants they were about to pick were actually started from seed at the Tomahawk Elementary School greenhouse back in the spring. Over the summer church volunteers watered, weeded and cared for the vegetables that were being harvested and given out through the Tomahawk Salvation Army’s Happy Kids Backpack Program as well as other community organizations.
Students took a break from learning about the benefits of eating healthy and why it is important to support local growers to grab lunch at Bambino’s Pizza and Grill. There they learned that some of the items they were eating from the salad bar were actually grown by local growers that came from the Downtown Tomahawk Farmers Market held every Tuesday afternoon.
“This really is a win-win for everybody,” stated Aimee Dickrell, Tomahawk Main Street executive director. “Children really do learn best from hands-on activity.”
And students certainly got plenty of hands-on experience during the 2nd annual Farm to Table outing hosted by Tomahawk Main Street. After getting their hands dirty digging in the soil before cleaning up to enjoy lunch, youngsters were set free at the Downtown Farmers Market to pick out the produce on their shopping lists that they used poker chips to pay for. From beef and pork to carrots and broccoli, students made their way from vendor to vendor selecting the items they needed to complete the list that they then got to take home and enjoy with their families later in the day.
Dickrell said the shopping for produce was just another learning experience as students were given a set budget and told to get the items on their list.
“Even at a young age it is important to start teaching youngsters about financial independence,” she said. “It’s great that both schools are able to participate in such a fun and educational day.”
From the many smiles on student faces you could tell they were thoroughly enjoying the Farm to Table fieldtrip. The day also fit the requirements to be considered a Lincoln County Nutrition Coalition 5210 Everyday day, as students ate at least five vegetables, spent at least two less hours in front of a screen, were involved in at least one hour of play or activity and consumed zero sugar drinks during the event.
Another important lesson shared with students was how they can volunteer in the community and the important impact it can have. The Garden of Giving will make available an abundance of healthy and tasty vegetables to those in the community who might not otherwise have access to fresh produce. And the benefits of supporting local growers at the farmers market go a long way toward supporting local growers and the local economy while making Lincoln County even healthier as a result of all the produce they grow and sell.
Dickrell added the farmers were more than happy to do their part and help educate the youngsters. Gleason grower Ron Behm was thrilled with the positive feedback he got after sharing ground cherries with students tasting them for the first time, which was just another example of sweet hands-on learning can be.
Funds to make 2nd annual Farm to Plate fieldtrip possible were made available by Associated Bank and St. Mary’s PTA. The Lincoln County Health Department Nutrition Coalition also partnered with Tomahawk Main Street, Grace and the Downtown Farmers Market to host the event. Adding an incentive to encourage return trips to the market, Tomahawk Extended Area – PIE (Partners in Education) sent each student home with a voucher that they can use at a future Downtown Farmers Market.
For more information on the Downtown Farmers Market and TMS, visit tomahawkmainstreet.org or visit Tomahawk Main Street’s Facebook page.