Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Peaches, Peaches, Peaches!

Our four little peach trees turned out to be not so little! On Wednesday we picked 55 peaches which will be peeled, sliced, pitted and bagged for the freezer. I'm not sure what Kathy Gunst has planned for them. Perhaps they will end up in pies, cobblers, smoothies.... mmm....  No matter what, I know the kids will love them. There is nothing better than locally grown peaches!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Central School’s Outdoor Classroom

    The Outdoor Classroom is located behind South Berwick’s Central Elementary School and wraps around the existing playground equipment in two directions. The concept was presented to the school board in April 2010 by local landscape architect Terrence Parker and was completed in May 2012 through ongoing community work days. The outdoor classroom is comprised of ten elements: a log walk, earthen berms, birch path, infinity walk, outdoor amphitheater, a wooded area, water garden, wildflower field, hoop house and fruit garden. It is enhanced by over two hundred trees and bushes. The outdoor classroom was made possible through donations of time, talent and resources as well as several local grants. This truly is the community’s outdoor classroom.
    The hoop house and fruit garden are sometimes referred to as the “Fresh Food Express”. Local food author and chef, Kathy Gunst, adopted the school through Michelle Obama’s program, “Chefs Move to Schools” , after she was invited to the White House in May 2010. Kathy began teaching nutrition and cooking classes in the fall of 2010 and was often accompanied by other chefs and nutritionists from the seacoast area. On March 17th, 2011 the first seeds for the hoop house were planted at the “Planting of the Green”. The kick-off was made extra special by master gardener, John Forti, who built excitement around planting rainbow swiss chard, curly kale and over a dozen other “green” treats. Since that first planting, Central School students have dined on stone soup, Swiss chard tacos, homemade salsa, fruit smoothies, kale chips, hoop house salad with homemade salad dressings and more, all made from our own hoop house harvest. Grants and donations from local farms enabled us to acquire the additional ingredients needed as well as kid-friendly cutting tools, bowls, pans and blenders.
    If you were to visit on a sunny spring school day you might see students performing a play in the outdoor amphitheater, building a teepee or bridge in the wooded area, stacking rocks in the water garden, measuring seedlings, navigating the infinity walk or harvesting kale. On a rainy day you might see students crossing the yard in their brightly colored raincoats with journals under their arms, eager to sit in the hoop house and journal.
    We welcome volunteers to the outdoor classroom. We appreciate help with maintaining, harvesting, and cooking with the students. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Central School at 384-2333, or email Central School’s principal, Nina D”Aran, at
                    For more information, visit us at

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Got Kale?

Our hoop house is full of it! Here are a few ways to prepare kale, whether from your garden or ours! Many thanks to Kathy Gunst for these simple but yummy recipes.

Kale Chips

A bunch of dinosaur kale
Olive oil
Salt to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Hold the thick end of the kale stem with one hand and run the pinched fingers of your other hand along the stem, stripping the leaf away.
Tear the leaves into bite-size pieces or leave them in strips for larger chips.
Brush both sides of the each piece with a little bit of olive oil, or toss them with oil directly on your baking tray. With clean hands.
Sprinkle the kale with salt and toss again. Wash your oily hands when you are finished.
Place the pieces of kale in a single layer on a cookie sheet.
Bake for 2 to 14 minutes or until crisp.
Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. Makes 2 cups.

Other ideas for fresh kale:
*Make a salad: cut kale into small pieces and sprinkle lightly with salt Toss with toasted pine nuts and raisins and toss with olive oil and lemon juice.
*Heat a skillet with olive oil. Cook 1 clove garlic thinly sliced for 10 seconds. Add a few cups of chopped fresh kale. Cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes on low heat or until kale is soft and tender. Season with salt and pepper.
*Kale, Sausage and White Bean Quick Stew: Cook 1 Italian sausage cut into small pieces and place in a large skillet. Add 1 cup water and cook for 5 minutes. Drain water. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and cook until sausage is golden brown. Add 1 cup chopped kale to the pan and stir well; cook 5 minutes over low heat. Add 1 cup cooked white beans (if canned, drain, rinse and drain again) and stir into sausage and kale. Cook 2 minutes. Add 1 chopped ripe tomato and cook another 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and hot pepper sauce if you like.