verde valley school farm

A Story of Environmental Stewardship

John Chorlton
Sustainability Coordinator.

One of the Verde Valley School Guiding Principles is Environmental Stewardship – nebulous words that can mean many things to many different people – person to person, family to family, and culture to culture. When I volunteered to take on the role of Sustainability Coordinator here at VVS it was because I didn’t want to lose the gains made by a group of people tied to the school. We had made progress despite nearly constant disagreement about the path forward.

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Climate Care Awareness Farm To Table Tour

 

December 6th at 2PM, Verde Valley School will give a “Farm to Table Tour” of it’s innovative farm and environmental stewardship program as part of “15 Days to Climate Awareness: A Call to Action,” presented by Climate Awareness and Inspiration Sedona.  We will offer tasting samples of some of our farm produce, and host the showing of two short videos, Small Scale Farmers Cool the Planet and Soil Solution to Climate Change. VVS’s gardener-in-residence, Mike Spielman, and Yavapai Valley Food Council’s, Harvey Grady, will be present along with other Q&A panel participants to answer questions.
The combination tour, tasting, videos, and Q&A event, is part of two weeks of local events, from November 28th through December 12th, that the local community group, Inspiration of Sedona, is presenting in conjunction with the global actions surrounding the December UN Conference on Climate Change in Paris. (www.climatecareawareness.org)
The Inspiration of Sedona is an open, egalitarian, community-building group, where people with enthusiasm for positive world change can collectively come together with their skills and talents to create a new level of community based on connection, partnership, and sustainability. VVS was invited to participate in the Climate Care Awareness program of events because of our stellar green example. The school’s garden is organic and ethically farmed, using compost harvested by students and incorporating 100% of their kitchen waste. An approved food source for their school dining hall, their garden program helps students understand the cycle of food waste, composting, growing and harvesting.
After the farm tour, guests will be invited to try samples of VVS’s farm produce. Then they will be treated to two short videos. The first video, “Small-Scale Farmers Cool the Planet,” is a 17-minute documentary highlighting the role of industrial agriculture in climate change while expounding on how small farmers are combating the climate crisis through regenerative organic agriculture.
The second video that will be shown is, “Climate Change: The Next Generation.” Ahead of the UN’s global summit on climate and as thousands gather in NY for the People’s Climate March, the film focuse on 18-year-old Oregonian Kelsey Juliana, who is walking across America to draw attention to global warming. Kelsey began her activist journey to help slow down climate change, at 15 years-old, as one of two plaintiffs in the public trust lawsuit that was filed against the state of Oregon, claiming that the state was not doing all it could to protect their future by reducing global warming.
After the videos, a Q&A session will address questions raised during the event. Harvey Grady, President of Cornucopia Community Advocates, will be present to share plans to grow organically grown food for the Yavapai Food Council, next to the VVS garden, and to answer questions. VVS’s gardener, Mike Spielman, who has spent the last two years turning a formerly empty piece of land on the school’s property into the bountiful garden that now provides a significant portion of the school’s produce, will also be available for the Q&A.
Please feel free to email climatecareawareness@gmail.com for questions or for more information if you want to attend the Farm to Table Tour, tasting, videos, and speakers. You can also contact the school at 928.284.2272 for more information.

 

 

 

 

Farm to Table Dinner Highlights

After months of planning, the VVS farm’s harvest hit tables today during our inaugural Farm to Table Feast. The event was sold-out as diners from Sedona made their way to the VVS campus for a garden tour, appetizers and, the main event, Chef Brian Widmer’s three-course plated dinner.

The day kicked off with Farm Teacher Mike Spielman hosting tours of the farm. Student and faculty volunteers were also on hand to talk with diners about the farm as it is today, and about it’s beginnings two years ago. VVS Chef Mike Briggs provided a sampling menu in the garden, along with prickly pear punch made by Spielman and a group of students.

The group made its way to the Head of School’s house, and were greeted by Head of School Paul Amadio, his wife Donita, Board of Trustee members Jeremy Hayman, Randy Crewse and Frances Smith-Hawley as well as VVS teachers. Students served as the waitstaff and music was provided by VVS music teacher Cooper Evans. Wine tastings were provided by local vintners Chateau Tumbleweed and DA Ranch.

You can find photos of the dinner in the galleries section of the VVS website and the VVS Facebook page.
VVS would like to put forth a huge thank you to everyone – from diners to food purveyors – who made the day possible. As the tables were cleared, we started planning Farm to Table Feast 2016. Stay tuned.

Desert Star visits VVS Garden

 

Last week VVS Farm Manager welcomed the third grade class of Desert Star Community School in Cornville to plant in the garden.  Teacher Megan Rosker and her class learned about the VVS garden, permaculture techniques and then got their hands dirty planting their own cauliflower plants.  The class will return to the garden over the school year to check on their plants and harvest them.  Food grown in our garden is also used in the Desert Star Backpacks for Kids hunger initiative. We’re looking forward to a great partnership.
You can see more photos of the class’s visit in the gallery section of the VVS website and our Flickr page. 
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VVS Farm Manager Mike Spielman plants cauliflower with Megan Rosker’s third grade class from Desert Star Community School.

 

Farm to Table Menu Announced

 

We’re excited to announce the menu for our first annual Farm to Table Feast, featuring produce from the Verde Valley School garden and cooked by local farm to fork pioneer Brian Widmer of Garland’s Lodge. As with any locally sourced menu, our farm manager Mike Spielman worked hand in hand with Widmer to build a menu featuring the freshest food available.

Here’s our menu:

Hors D’Oeuvres
Seasonal delights featuring an assortment of goodies fresh from the VVS Farm
Salad
Farm fresh Verde Valley School garden arugula and mixed greens tossed with honey walnut vinaigrette complemented by crisp pear, pecans, Verde Valley School Armenian cucumbers and Black Mesa Ranch fresh goat cheese drizzled with maple vinaigrette
Entrée and Complementing Sides
Roast Chino Valley grass fed New York strip with foraged wild mushroom demi glace
Verde Valley School garden beans sweetened with caramelized onions
Verde Valley School farm grown roast spaghetti squash
Dessert
VVS student picked local homestead apples in a Garland’s apple tart with vanilla gelato complete the meal
Local Wines
from Chateau Tumbleweed and DA Ranch
There are still seats available around the table. Please register by clicking here.
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VVS Farm Manager Mike Spielman and Chef Brian Widmer discuss the menu for this weekend’s Farm to Table Feast.