Fresh food grown locally
Local farmers show off produce to schools
On a crisp Monday morning Gerrie and Rick Goodall pointed out young tomato plants, cucumbers and apple trees to a group of people on their Dolores farm.
“This is a third-generation apple orchard,” Rick Goodall pointed out to Chuck Soukup and Sandi Vanhoutean, both food service directors of local schools.
Soukup, food services director for the Dolores School District, and Vanhoutean, food services director of Montezuma-Cortez School District, walked between tomato plants, young broccoli plants, pea plants and near fledging celery stalks.
For the first time this year, the Montezuma-Cortez School District forged contracts with several local growers to provide locally grown produce to the students in Cortez. In Dolores, Soukup plans to work with farmers and provide as much locally grown produce as possible this coming year.
Soukup said he is very interested in apples from Goodall’s farm.
“The flavor is better, it looks better,” he said.
Vanhoutean hopes to build on what she started last year. Last year, she offered “Tasty Tuesdays” to students, serving local produce.
“They loved the salad bar,” Vanhoutean said. “They loved the sunflower greens.”
Vanhoutean said the locally grown food is a bit more expensive than buying it elsewhere, but it is worth it.
“It’s all about healthier eating by the kids,” she said.
Vanhoutean said Cortez will spend $2,588 on locally grown produce and support seven local farms, buying everything from broccoli to melons.
Soukup said he will stay in contact with the local farmers because timing is everything when it comes to food preparation, but it is something his over 700 students enjoy.
“They like the idea that it’s coming from down the street versus a different country,” he said.
In addition, Soukup said he is hoping to get more produce actually grown by the students at the farm.
“I think the kids are proud of what they are doing at the school and when they see it on the salad bar, they are more likely to try it,” Soukup said.
Vanhoutean said she is happy to support local farmers.
“I think more and more people are wanting to support local farmers. People are giving up on grocery store produce,” she said.
Soukup said touring the farms is a great way to see what the farms have to offer and how safely food is handled. In order to sell to the schools, the farms produced safety plans. School officials were checking on these things as well, such as where the water comes from, what types of chemicals are used and if there were hand and vegetable washing stations.
Gerrie Goodall said their farm in Dolores, named Bountiful Ridge, mostly sells in the farmers markets.
Rick Goodall has been farming all his life and so has his father and his grandfather.
“I’ve always wanted to sell to the schools,” where he works as a custodian, he said. “I’m excited about it. It’s nice to know the children can have local produce.”