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Locally Grown Produce Comes to Big Lake Schools

A new initiative undertaken by Big Lake Schools is focused around healthy, local food options for lunch. In conjunction with Chartwells Food Service, this initiative is focused on sourcing local fruits and vegetables from area farms. Director of Food Service Emily Ly, is excited about this endeavor. 

“Utilizing local farmers and businesses to provide healthy fruits and vegetables is a great way to support our community” says Ly. Last week Bob and Judy’s, run by the Wilts family, provided watermelons to serve during lunch. In the upcoming weeks zucchini and yellow squash from Brown Family Farm are also planned to be on the menu. “Next summer and fall we hope to incorporate more locally sourced products into our Summer Meals Program and lunches at all schools,” says Ly. 

At Big Lake High School there is a student garden that is utilized in culinary and healthy eating classes. Students plant the garden in the spring and help care for it. Family and Consumer Sciences Teacher Brenda Larson teaches her fall culinary students how to use the fresh produce grown in the garden and turn it into delicious dishes. Students in her classes also learn about food preservation and how preserving food at the peak of freshness allows them to use garden fresh food throughout the year.  “This is a great learning opportunity for students to not only learn how to plant and care for a garden, but also creates a discussion about the importance of a healthy diet,” says Larson. 

New this year at Liberty Elementary there is a garden for learning opportunities thanks to the leadership of Big Lake Junior Evan Scales. Scales, a member of Boy Scout Troop 93, is working towards achieving the rank of Eagle Scout and saw the opportunity to complete his service project at his former elementary school. “We are so excited to have this garden where our youngest students have the opportunity to learn how to grow and tend to plants,” says Assistant Principal Teresa Smock-Potter. “This was our first year having a garden here and we are incredibly excited to improve our produce selection for next year.” Contributions from Spud Fest, Chartwells, Sherburne County SHIP, Master Gardener Liz Lewis and volunteers helped make this garden a reality. “My hope is that future Eagle Scout applicants will see how this project built a strong bridge between the school and our community,” says Scales.