Food Day: An educational feast!


The following article will appear in next week’s Julian News.  Great photos follow after the story!

Joining with individuals, schools and cities across America, Julian Elementary School celebrated its first National Food Day on October 24th.  From 9:00 to 2:00, K-5 students were treated to eight different workshops spread across campus focusing on food, agriculture, cooking and nutrition.  Simply put, students and staff ate it up.

All sessions were experiential, interactive and expertly taught by a team of volunteers.  Representing the Julian Apple Growers Association, Mary Prentice and Teak Nichols related the history of the apple while having the students press their own cider.  Josh Rasmussen, from Down the Road Farm, led students in a planting activity as well as brought farm animals for the kids to enjoy.  Farm Smart, a program of the UC Desert Research and Extension Center, lent us Stephanie Collins for a wonderful program that included churning butter, comparing animal feed, and milking Bessie, a wooden cow equipped with an inner stainless steel container filled with real milk.  Camp Stevens staff Ryan Wannamaker and Correen Walsh captivated kids in the garden with pollinator games, honey tastings and dressing up as beekeepers.  Led by Tricia Elisara and Gina VanderKam, students played vocabulary-rich “Garden Bingo” and interacted with the outstanding documentary film “Nourish” about global food issues.

Cooking was another key ingredient of the day.  Chef Greg from Healthy Adventures Foundation enlisted students to help make lettuce wraps and flavorful tostadas.  Across campus, Chef Jeremy Manley and Carie Quick talked with students about the new school lunch program (catered by Jeremy’s on the Campus) and had the students brainstorm new menu items.  To tie it all together, Carmen Macias led a game in classifying edible plant parts, decorating a “My Plate” diagram with healthy choices and ending with a fitness activity.  Many parents, Garden Beneficials and other dedicated community members generously gave their day to assisting at each workshop.

To add to this educational banquet, the campus was decorated with posters made by students in the weeks prior, promoting good food and healthy habits.  At 11:00, students gathered on the playground for a scheduled exercise break led by Coach Dobby from the Julian Fitness Center.  Just before starting, however, music came on the load speaker and Principal/Superintendent Kevin Ogden moved to the center of the campus, dancing.  Teachers joined him from all directions, and the first ever flash mob at Julian Elementary was performed, appropriately enough to the song “We can change the world” on a day dedicated to making a healthier world for all of us!

Celebrating Food Day was an idea generated by the school’s Farm to School Team as part of the year-long USDA planting grant awarded to the district and spearheaded by Pathways Executive Director Susi Jones.  To learn more about National Food Day, or to begin planning activities for next year, please visit and/or contact the Farm to School Coordinator Tricia Elisara for more information.


Students made these posters in University of Wednesday

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Cranking the cider press (Photo courtesy of Karen Alexander)


Wait a minute….is that Gina VanderKam playing Garden Bingo? (On a visit from Washington, she was my right hand woman all day!) She is still trying to get the crayon off her fingers….


How adorable is this?


An activity to classify the edible parts of the plant

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Working on a “My Plate” activity

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After this class, the girl pictured told me “Best day ever!”

Snip! goes one more ribbon

On Wednesday, October 17th we officially welcomed the James Hubbell Gate into our garden.  Back-to-back with this celebration was a garden tour given to a group of people attending the No Excuses University conference in San Diego.  Garden Ambassadors gave tours for a half an hour, and then we kicked off the ceremony.

Here’s me reviewing last minute tour details with the ambassadors:

Photo courtesy of Marisa McFedries

The gate is tied up with a ribbon.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Holt

Just a taste of Rita’s always-remarkable catering:

Photo courtesy of Jeff Holt

Show time!  Garden Ambassadors do their thing, informing the guests about the section of the garden at which they are stationed.

Photo courtesy of Marisa McFedries

Photo courtesy of Marisa McFedries

Photo courtesy of Marisa McFedries

Photo courtesy of Marisa McFedries

This ambassador is standing behind a display of student photography detailing the creation of the gate.

Photo courtesy of Marisa McFedries

The entomology club talks to guests!

Photo courtesy of Marisa McFedries

A student plays fiddle for guests who are being seated, just as he promised in his application:

Photo courtesy of Marisa McFedries

Sixth grade students read poetry written about the gate:

Photo courtesy of Marisa McFedries

I greet the crowd and give a speech, explaining “… this is a story of many things: of dreams turned into reality, the making of new friendships, the power of imagination to reshape reality, the generosity of our community to the benefit of children and the doorway to new chapters.”

Photo courtesy of Marisa McFedries

James speaks!

Photo courtesy of Marisa McFedries

L to R: Susi Jones (Executive Director of Pathways), Kevin Ogden (Julian Elementary Principal and Superintendent), Ann and James Hubbell, me, John Wheelock (artistic colleague of James who worked on gate), Mike Gallo (who established the Pamela Gallo fund at the United Methodist Church which funded the gate) and Dawn King (pastor at Julian Community United Methodist Church.)

Photo courtesy of Lay Lay

Snip! goes the ribbon.

Photo courtesy of Lay Lay

The children walk through, as they will be doing for decades to come!

Photo courtesy of Lay Lay