“This is my first field trip ever!” exclaimed a second-grade student from K-8 Warm Springs Academy as he bounced off the bus onto Seed to Table’s education farm. The enthusiasm echoed from 80 other students unloading after the hour-and-20-minute ride to Sisters.

It was, indeed, the first field trip many of these students had ever experienced outside of their community in Warm Springs. The day included exploring how seeds travel, surveying the five major needs of plants, and investigating tastes of the farm. At the end of the field trip, students’ arms were loaded with bags of fresh veggies that they harvested.

Each student also was equipped with a simple recipe to take home to try with their family.

Fall brings the start of a new school year, unraveling a trail of new experiences for students. All second- through sixth-graders from Sisters and, for the first time, 300 students from Warm Springs Academy, grades 2, 5 and 7, will be immersed in fresh foods and life science — about 400 more students than Seed to Table hosted last year.

Our staff is always so excited to welcome students to the farm during this time of year as it is the most bountiful time. The diversity of plants and life creates so many pathways for curiosity, exploration, new flavors and learning.

“Partnering with Seed to Table is helping me learn how I can best help my community through garden-based education,” said John Brunoe, OSU Extensions Warm Springs. “The opportunity for Warm Springs students to learn about fresh foods and be immersed in learning on Seed to Table farm is a gift... Because Warm Springs lacks a grocery that carries fresh vegetables, we have to travel 45 miles round trip for a head of lettuce. Inspiring our students to get involved in our community gardens and to grow fresh foods can truly be life-changing for them and their families... “

This past spring and summer Seed to Table revamped its education lessons, working alongside teachers and administrators to integrate lessons more closely with classroom lessons and grade progressions. We are excited that our education team is playing an even larger role in helping teachers fulfill life science standards. Tucked into all of the science are countless experiences with fresh veggies and nutrition.

“Students learning comes alive with hands in the dirt, mouths full of freshly harvested food and eyes opened to science investigations all around when we experience field trips at Seed to Table,” said Julie Holden, a third-grade teacher at Sisters Elementary School.

In the past year, some exciting changes and growth have occurred within our organization allowing us to expand the number of community members we serve. In addition to entering a cooperative relationship with members of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs ato help Warm Springs develop its own version of Seed to Table, Seed to Table has enrolled 20 new teachers, from Sisters and beyond, in our farm-based nutrition and science field trip series. We have expanded production to keep up with the increased demand for our fresh produce from area food banks. While we were excited, and a bit overwhelmed, to see so much need throughout Central Oregon, it became obvious that we needed more full-time help. With our small staff of two employees, two interns and a few very part-time educators we were simply at capacity of what we could offer.

The vision of hiring an education coordinator has evolved over the past few years. During 2018 Seed to Table was grateful to receive one year of community funding to hire an education coordinator. Our search led us to an outstanding individual, Aude Girin, to take on the role of education coordinator. I am thrilled Aude has stepped in as our full-time education coordinator starting this past June. Aude is an exceptional teacher, driven to serve and connect with those around her. She embodies our mission and all it means to be growing minds alongside growing plants. Her patience and passion come together to create meaningful learning for all ages.

Aude  said, “I am proud to work for Seed to Table. The organization’s commitment to engage and empower the community by focusing on healthy food initiatives is powerful... I am most amazed by the openness of the parents, teachers, volunteers and students when it comes to trying new ideas. It makes it an extremely fun and energetic place to carry out my passions.”