Students plant veggies for field-to-fork movement

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ORCHARD MESA, Colo.- ‘Field to fork’ is the idea behind a project that brings multiple organizations together in the Grand Valley. On Tuesday, over 100 students were planting veggies at the CSU Western Colorado Research Center. In a few months, those plants will fill their bellies and fuel their learning.

It was a different type of classroom for some students at Chatfield Elementary and Chatfield Elementary.

“We are in a unique situation to allow our facility to be used as an outdoor classroom,” explained Amanda McQuade, the community alliance program coordinator for the Colorado State University Western Colorado Research Center.

On Tuesday, kids were planting seeds of cucumbers, tomatoes, melons and other vegetables. It gave students a chance to learn about agriculture, while getting their hands dirty.

“Agriculture is a big part of our lives and so few students get outside and given the freedom to explore,” McQuade said.

The unique thing about this project is what happens down the road. In a few months, the students will go back to the CSU Research Center and harvest the food themselves.

“The same food that we are going to be harvesting, they’re actually going to be eating it in the cafeterias of our school district,” explained Dan Sharp, with Food and Nutrition Services at D51.

Sharp says 5 years ago, only about 5% of the food in the cafeteria was locally sourced. By next year, they hope that number has increased to around 20%.

“Food grown in the area is better at providing the nutrients you need, than buying it from abroad where it sat in refrigeration for a couple of weeks,” Sharp said.

The project doesn’t stop there. While D51 will receive a third of the vegetables grown, the rest will go to the Food Bank of the Rockies.

“It’s just really cool,” explained Lali Leon, a 5th grader at Chatfield Elementary. “You’re doing something good to help others.”

The Food Bank of the Rockies says 1 in 7 Coloradoans, don’t know when their next meal will be.

“Fresh produce is the first of what people ask for when they come to a food pantry,” explained Katie Ettman with the Food Bank of the Rockies. “It’s certainly one of the things that is harder to get."

Ettman says this will allow them to provide a variety of healthy and different foods.

The partnership for this project is between Colorado State University, District 51 and the Food Bank of the Rockies.