Fall Farm Update from Nichole Lupo

Greetings, school family! While it has taken a while for the weather to reflect the calendar, it’s safe to say that we are finally, fully experiencing autumn. As the summer crops slowly wind down, we’ve been working with students to stock the greenhouse and to prepare and plant our farm sites for the next few seasons.

First up, let’s pause for a beat to celebrate the huge bounty of summer produce we’ve enjoyed on the farm and in the cafeteria. From okra and tomatoes to beans, cowpeas, squash, eggplant, basil, and peppers, our farm sites have filled our bellies with the most delicious summer fruits and herbs. We’ve also had our hearts filled with the beauty of many different flowers, including sunflowers, zinnias, cosmos, marigolds, and borage, and many perennial flowers continuing to bloom, such as salvia, chrysanthemum, and aster.

Our fall crop line-up is exciting and diverse, and most of these plants will grow slowly and steadily throughout the winter too, providing continued nourishment on our school lunch menus. Roots, flower buds, and leaves are the most prevalent plant parts we eat in cooler weather, so we’re looking forward to greens like collards, kale, spinach and lettuces, as well as carrot, radish, turnip, beet, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, romanesco, kohlrabi, leek, and garlic. We will also get to enjoy the enormous fall squashes rolling in and the cowpeas we’ve dried from the summer, as well as a bit of okra for stews from the freezer. It is a joy to work with students in all grade levels across campuses to support the many life cycles on the farm, including brewing and applying compost tea, mixing up soil amendments to add to the beds, and collecting dried pods and flowers for saving seeds. We study everything from plant parts and ecosystems to microorganisms and Dr. George Washington Carver, all while we grow food, listen to and learn from each other and our surroundings, and practice peace.

Additionally, we’ve had several wonderful opportunities to gather with many in our school family out on the farm sites, first for our Celebration of Food, Farms, and Culture on Oct. 24, and then during Grandparents and Special Friends Day on Oct. 27. The energy, joy, and excitement were palpable on both occasions, and it was (and always is!) so special to have meaningful connection and conversation with each other around the topics of food, farming, and gardening. It’s a beautiful reminder that we all have individual and collective identity(ies) when it comes to land, eating, and story, and coming together in our communal farm spaces is a lovely, grounded way to honor that. Three cheers for more of that, especially as the days get shorter and colder, and we must work to bring and share our light. Holding so much gratitude for the gifts of the land–and for those of our school family–and wishing us all well as we embrace this shift in seasons.