NJ Farm Makes Farm To School Month A Local AffairWed 02 Nov 2011
Story by Robin McConaughy
Across the United States, the month of October was National Farm to School Month. In the town of Hopewell, New Jersey, Double Brook Farm partnered with the Hopewell Elementary School and the school garden organizer, Tish Streeten, to create a comprehensive culinary and educational program.
Here’s How It Worked
For the week of October 3rd through the 7th, the farm harvested fresh vegetables in the early morning to be picked up by the school’s chef, Tony Kowalak. The veggies were then featured in that day’s school lunch. By all accounts it was a success. The kids were excited to eat the fresh foods grown right in town and the staff was amazed by the amounts of scallions, peppers, broccoli, lettuce, cherry tomatoes and swiss chard the kids could put away.
The next step was the Farm to School Day on October 19 during which every class went to the school garden, learned about how vegetables are grown, composting and how to make nutrient-rich soil. Chris Turse, the vegetable manager of Double Brook Farm, tirelessly and enthusiastically presented these concepts to the classes in the driving rain. As the kids got their hands dirty looking for worms and creating compost, Tony the chef prepared a stir-fry of fresh carrots, cabbage, scallions and other goodies from Double Brook Farm. The kids loved it!
Finally, the area’s local Representative, Rush Holt, was on hand to talk to the kids and the media on the importance of the National Farm to School Month program, the Federal funding for which he helped champion.
Events such as these, which focus on knowing where your food comes from, speak to a central philosophy of Jon and Robin McConaughy, the Owners of Double Brook Farm.
The farm, started in 2004, raises livestock (cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens and turkeys) as well as vegetables. Intending to solve the problem of supply, demand and distribution, the McConaughys are also in the process of opening a restaurant and a market, which will be supplied primarily by the farm. To close the loop of their vertical model, they are creating New Jersey’s first mobile slaughterhouse. Thus, all of the operations involved in getting food from the farm to the table will be enclosed in a 5-mile radius.
Also critical to the McConaughys and their farm to table plan is the concept of reducing their carbon footprint. Currently, they have three barns with solar arrays providing all the electricity and domestic heat and hot water to the farm and their home. Additionally, they are using geothermal heating and cooling methods and creating their own biodiesel fuel, which operates the heavy equipment they use to run the farm as well as their personal vehicles. The restaurant and the market will be incorporating green technologies and aim to be carbon neutral as well.
While this thoughtful approach to farming and business is great for local food, local jobs and sustainability, the most important thing the McConaughys feel they’ve done is to teach their two boys the value of treating the earth and the animals they raise with respect.
To learn more, please visit the website or contact the farm at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the author: Robin McConaughy owns Double Brook Farm in Hopewell New Jersey with her husband, Jon. When she isn't capturing animals and vegetable on film and posting to the website, she serves as a full-time chauffer for her 2 sons.
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