Farm-to-table class

Soldiers with the 1st Cavalry Rear Detachment help students at Copperas Cove Junior High School build a community garden for their farm-to-table class.

Soldiers and students worked side by side, building, digging and creating the Copperas Cove Junior High School garden that will be used for a Farm to Table class, one of more than a dozen new electives offered at the school.

In partnership with the 1st Cavalry Rear Detachment, the school’s adopted unit, CCJHS alumni Ashley Stephens and Mark Turner from the Waco Children’s Garden and Outdoor Classroom along with students worked to build above-ground garden beds for the new class, which has students excited about the healthy food they will grow, cook and eat.

“I love Farm to Table because it’s fun and exciting,” student Taryn Stevenson said. “We get to make different types of food and try new things.”

The city donated compost to fill the above-ground beds and get the garden up and running, said CCJHS Principal Amanda Crawley.

“The students spent the day learning how to build the garden in a sustainable way, which vegetables would grow best in the winter months and how to reuse materials we already have to keep the garden healthy,” Crawley said.

The students from the Farm to Table class, led by their instructor, Chef Yliris Finney, plan to raise their vegetables for many different cooking projects this year.

“I love to teach this class and help the students learn and be able to cook a balanced meal. So many of us are in a hurry and grab whatever we can without even looking to see what our food is made of,” Finney said. “I want the students in my classes to be able to understand what is healthy and what is not.

“It is important to teach them more about what they are putting in their growing bodies,” Finney added. “I love to see how excited the children are with cooking and I can’t wait to get our garden started.”

Students will be able to plant fruits and vegetables in the raised garden bed, monitor the growth of the plants and continue to care for them.

Once the garden is completed, students will take the food and cook with it during class.

“I love Fridays because we get to cook on Fridays and eat what we cook,” student Shawn Downing said. “This class helps me to cook at home with my mom.”

The farm-to-table social movement has gained popularity in recent years due to concerns about food safety, food freshness, food seasonality and the benefits of eating healthy.

The elective class gives students an opportunity to develop knowledge and skills of culinary arts including cooking, basic understandings for food handling and etiquette. Students experience farm-to-table preparation and gain knowledge of handling, processing, and marketing of food.

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