By Francie Lin, GFN Writer-in-Residence I think everyone would rather forget the early pandemic days…
This fall we joyfully returned to the Northampton Public Schools for in-person Cider Pressing Workshops!
For years our Grow Food Kids program has offered farm and food educational
opportunities for students in the Northampton area. Fall farm field trips, winter cooking workshops and spring garden visits were all put on hold or transformed in some way in 2020 due to the pandemic. As students returned to in-person learning this fall, we were happy to return to the Northampton Public Schools as well. First in October we presented short Virtual Farm Field Trips via Zoom. In November we were finally able to be together with students!
Over the course of two weeks in November, Ellena and the Grow Food Kids team visited every elementary school in the Northampton Public Schools to offer Cider Pressing workshops. We pressed cider with 54 classes in total! For 30 minutes each, classes ranging from pre-K through 5th grade visited us outside for a hand-on and delicious experience. After a quick introduction and overview, each student took a turn to grind an apple. Once the apple mash was moved to the press, everyone took a turn spinning the cider press 4 times. Throughout the different classes we were inspired to count to four in as many languages as we could – including English, Spanish, French, German, Arabic, Japanese, and Chinese. As the plate began to press the mash, the oohs and ahhs of watching fresh cider press out of apples was a thrill every time!
Once each class finished pressing, there was always more than enough fresh cider for everyone to have a sample. Before we sipped from our cups, Ellena always led the students in making toasts. We raised our tasting glasses to apples, nature, fall, ‘all the people we love’, baseball, our teachers, our schools, bees, and trees. We heard over and over that this was the best cider that the students and teachers had tasted. Older students also reminisced about past Grow Food Kids activities as well as shared their latest home cooking experiences, reaffirming to us how important and memorable our education programs are. Each student went home with a thank you note and a sticker.