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Partridge Creek Farm-to-School Program ripe for the season at Ishpeming Middle School

The first day of fall programming began Wednesday with sixth-graders learning mindfulness, togetherness and gardening at the Ishpeming Public Schools garden site.
Published: Sep. 8, 2021 at 6:15 PM EDT
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ISHPEMING, Mich. (WLUC) - The cool and showery Wednesday made for a fresh start to Partridge Creek Farm’s Farm-to-School Program this year -- in partnership with Ishpeming Public Schools.

The group of sixth-graders in the program revisited the community garden they helped plant last summer.

“Today was about the senses. So we sat in the garden and they named five things that they saw and four things that they felt and three things that they heard,” said Partridge Creek Farm Farm-to-School Educator Emily Bateman, who is participating in her second year.

And then the students went on to taste and smell the fruits and veggies of their labor, as detailed by sixth-grader Derek Meyer -- who is the son of Ishpeming Public Schools Superintendent Carrie Meyer.

What was your favorite?

Meyer: Probably the carrots.

Did you like the spinach?

Meyer: Um. Kind of!

Did you dare to try the other ones?

Meyer: Yeah I tried celery.

The sensory assignment delved into the main focus of Wednesday’s session: mindfulness.

The program’s staff also includes wellness specialists to help get that lesson across.

“Mindfulness basically is practice-presence. And the quickest way to do that is run through your five senses and being out in the garden and working with food – that’s a pretty easy job. And we’re directing the kids to kind of pick up on those five senses with whatever activity we’re doing that day,” Angie Kates, who is an intern at Suunta Integrative Health Intern and is in the Master of Social Work program at Northern Michigan University.

Partridge Creek Farm Director of Programs and Partnership May Tsupros said that the goal is to package nutrition, health, gardening and science -- all in one.

“It’s (about) a holistic student. It’s not just about test scores and performing in a classroom. It’s about being a good human but taking care of yourself and each other and growing as a community,” said Tsupros.

“It’s fun to just hang out with your friends, talk with them and taste the vegetables with them,” added Meyer.

This is the fifth year running for the Farm-to-School Program.

It’s currently provided to fifth and sixth graders through a course of 30 weeks -- featuring hands-on teaching in gardening and healthy cooking.

Through grant funding, Partridge Creek Farm is looking to expand their program from Pre-K to 12th grade.

“We’re in partnership with the Ishpeming public school system. We work really close with the school, they fiscally sponsor some of our large grants. We just got a really big grant with the Michigan Health Endowment Fund that’s helping us plan the big community farm. We’re just going to keep growing and expanding,” Tsupros said.

Visit their website here to learn more about the farm’s programs, projects and how you can get involved with the non-profit organization.

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