Coupeville schools, local nonprofit, awarded grant to build school farm

The Coupeville School District, in partnership with the nonprofit Coupeville Farm to School, has received a grant that will help establish a school farm.

The grant from the US Department of Agriculture totals $95,100 and will be used to further agricultural education with the creation of a farm, which will in turn supply food for the Connected Food Program.

Last year the school district started the Connected Food Program, which uses meat, veggies and fruits from Whidbey farms to make healthier school meals from scratch.

Assistant Director Laura Luginbill said Andreas Wurzrainer, the program’s director and chef, earned the kids’ trust with food last year, getting them to try new things.

Wurzrainer said he agreed that some great progress was made within the program’s first year.

“We said last year we don’t want to hide the vegetables in the food,” Wurzrainer said. “We want to showcase them.”

In the kitchen of Coupeville High School, Wurzrainer sifts through meatloaf, zucchini and bell peppers that will all be on the menu next week.

The USDA grant will create the infrastructure of a school farm, which will be able to provide the food for future school lunches.

Luginbill said the school gardens near Coupeville Elementary School are currently used for classes to sample the crops. They are not big enough to produce food for the school lunches.

The grant will also form an advisory committee for the school farm and hire a part-time manager for it, which Luginbill said will help get things growing.

“We need a leader, just to help get that established,” she said.

The farm site is plotted to go near the school district’s practice fields.

According to a press release, the farm will get “a fence to protect crops from the deer, a wash station for processing crops and a greenhouse for extending the growing season and growing hot weather crops.”

Luginbill said the new farm will start by highlighting a fruit or veggie every month that can be grown locally.

The organization Coupeville Farm to School, which works with the schools, will also find ways to incorporate the school farm into learning activities, and teachers will do the same in their classes.

“It coordinates everybody around a common theme every month,” Luginbill said. “That helps ground us all.”

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