October 29, 2015

Local Wild Food Challenge Champions

High Schoolers from Island Grown Schools’ Farm Project Win the Local Wild Food Challenge

On Sunday,October 11th, high school students in Island Grown Schools’ farm to school leadership program, the Farm Project, took home the Grand Prize from the Local Wild Food Challenge. The Challenge is a community event that celebrates wild food and foraging on the island.

In a crowded field of more than 18 competitors, which included professional chefs and experienced home cooks, the students’ entry was judged to be the best overall by the panel of judges.

Their winning dish was a Summer Bounty Salad with local chestnuts, eggs, beets, green beans, seaweed, watercress, dandelion greens, purslane, potatoes, pickled beach plums and peppers, fried crickets and grasshoppers, and fried white bait fish served with a nasturtium stem and autumn olive vinaigrette.

“This challenge gave our crew such a wonderful and unique opportunity to explore the island they’ve grown up on, and throughout our exploration we met supportive, creative and generous community members who made our dish possible,” said Kelsey Head, IGS’ Farm Project leader.

“It was really cool to take things that I am constantly surrounded by every day and overlook and bring all of that together to create a meal,” said Ryan O’Malley, a sophomore at the Regional High School. “When I’m walking around I might eat some stuff that I find, but to purposely collect enough to make a meal while having fun in the woods is pretty great.”

Local chef Christina Napolitan trained and assisted the students with menu planning and preparation.

Jack O’Malley of the MVRHS Culinary Department let the students prepare the meal in the the high school’s Culinary Arts kitchen.

Cooper Gilkes of Coop’s Bait and Tackle helped catch the baitfish that became a key ingredient in the dish.

In the wake of this victory, the Farm Project students are planning to dig deeper into the world of wild edible foods on the island, and are hoping to share their knowledge with younger students by hosting foraging walks for children and families in the spring.

The summer of 2015 marked the fifth year of the Farm Project, IGS’s teen farm to school leadership program for students 14-19 years old. Through hands-on, service-based projects in school gardens, farms and with community organizations, the students learn elements of farming, gardening and nutrition and share their knowledge with others in their school communities and in the wider community through classes, workshops and trainings.

This academic year, the Farm Project has eight crew members from both the Charter School and the Regional High School. Under Kelsey’s leadership, the crew will facilitate school and community based projects in four areas: facilitating composting and food waste reduction programs; supporting healthy, locally grown food in school meals; growing student engagement in school gardens; and developing a strong local seed system.

For more information, please contact Kelsey Head, Island Grown Schools High School Coordinator at kelsey@islandgrown.org.