December 22, 2015

December Happenings

December Newsletter

This month we celebrate Island Grown Schools’ eighth birthday! Great thanks to each of you who have been part of the growth and development of our work to bring food education and healthy, locally grown food to all the children on Martha’s Vineyard since that first community meeting we held to launch this program on a cold December night in 2007.

Even during these darkest days of the year, our work in the schools is full and busy, planting pea shoots in greenhouses and classroom window sills, leading cooking classes, teaching fiber lessons, and making sure all the gardens are put to bed for the winter.

Chilmark School Seed Sale

The Chilmark School is holding their second annual all-school holiday seed sale in the mornings before school and after school through December 23rd. This fall, the students learned about the life cycle of plants from seed to seed. They then selected plants from their garden to save seeds from and came together as a school to package six varieties of seeds for sale. The funds they raise go to their school Garden Fund to support the garden in the next growing season.

Sharing our Model & Learning about Farm to School in New York City

This past month three of our staff traveled to New York City to connect with school chefs, farm-to-school organizations and other non-profits with similar missions bringing garden-based learning and locally grown foods to children in the city. We were inspired by the people who are serving quality, from scratch meals to huge numbers of students; providing learning opportunities through rooftop gardens, classroom windowsills, and hydroponic and aquaponic systems; and connecting the dots to encourage more people to pursue work in these fields. We learned a lot and were able to share the resources and tools we’ve developed in our program here on the Vineyard with groups that are doing kindred work in a very different setting.

End of the Year Giving

As we approach the end of the year, we hope that you will consider including Island Grown Schools in your holiday giving plans. You can make a tax-deductible gift by clicked the “donate” button on our website, or send a check made out to Island Grown Schools to PO Box 622, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.

December’s Harvest of the Month

This December, we celebrate Kale, a cold hardy green that will last in the garden through most of the winter.

Students and teachers in our public schools are tasting Pickled Kale Stems, which have been a huge hit. If you are stripping down kale for a meal, try saving the stems and making this recipe at home.


1C. White vinegar

1/4 C. Sugar

1TBL. Salt

3 garlic cloves, smashed

1 TBL. Mustard seeds

1 tsp. black peppercorns, cracked

8 large kale stems, washed and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces

* optional 1/4 tsp. red chili flakes

Bring the vinegar, sugar and salt to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Remove from the heat and add garlic, mustard seeds, peppercorns and chili flakes if you are using them.

Place kale stem pieces in a large bowl and pour the vinegar mixture over it. Stir to combine spices. Make sure all the pieces are submerged in the brine. Allow to cool completely before serving.

Recipe by Robin Forte