Products of the Avon Grove Charter School’s Micro Farm were on display
PENN >> It was a great night for food fresh off the farm at the Katt and Mathy farm in Cochranville on Saturday.
The products of the Avon Grove Charter School Micro Farm were on display and ready for consumption at the school’s PTO-sponsored Farm-to-Table dinner. About 150 friends and parents came to the event, eager to support the farm program and experience just what was growing at the back field of the school.
Meanwhile, their children enjoyed an art event downstairs, where they had their own dinner and entertainment.
The Farm-to-Table dinner was held at a large barn converted for entertainment at the property of Kathy and Matt Goin on Baker Road. It is huge and cavernous and is decorated with hanging lights and is rented out for events.
“Students are learning through simple but important chores.” — Avon Grove Charter School teacher Bonnie Dickson
“Publicity is sort of word-of-mouth. We’ll work with the customers to do just about anything they want,” Matt Goin said.
The crops that made the meal came in large part from the Bartram greenhouse that sits just off the back wall of the school. The micro farm, under the direction of Bill “Mr. Bill” Aff, also has sheep, goats, chickens and ducks, but none of them were taken to supply meat for the event.
Additionally, some elements of the dinner came from nearby farms or from friends. And the rice came pre-packaged.
The details of the dinner were worked out by teachers Bonnie Dickson and Alison Hahs with parent Theresa Zunino-McFalls.
Dickson greeted the crowd and told them how much the micro farm means to her.
She quoted an old Zen saying, “Before you receive enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. After you receive enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.”
She said that is how she feels about the experiences the students have on the micro farm. “Students are learning through simple but important chores,” she added.
She said she was lucky to see the impact on the students and was grateful for the overwhelming support, not only from the folks at the dinner but for Aff, who runs the farm.
She also thanked Tim Smith, the chef from West Grove restaurant “Twelves,” who prepared the hot food. Many of the students participated in making the cold dishes at the kitchen at the Technical College High School in Penn.
The evening was filled with entertainment in addition to the food that was served by students and volunteers.
Children from the elementary grades through the high school play music, and members of the “Green Team,” which runs the farm, talked about experiences they had cleaning the fish tanks, taking care of the sheep and birthing the baby goats. There was also a photo booth and a table full of donated bottles of wine which were wrapped in black paper and set out for purchase at $10 each.
Another feature which added to the support stream was the donation table where people were able to contribute specific amounts of money for things like goat feed, art projects and the like. In return, the donors received balloons for their tables.
The meal was served in courses starting with the cold plates. They included things like salad greens, salsa, crustless quiche, rice with peas and pesto butter. The second, hot course, included squash with pork filling, gnocchi with spinach and eggplant Parmesan.
For dessert there were cupcakes made by eighthgraders Lianna Gardner and Susan Deering with honey from the school’s bees. The student grandmother-mother team of Carmella and Nicole Contro made fried honey dough from an old family recipe.
The proceeds from the event support the micro farm, the STEM program and the arts at the charter school.
The Avon Grove Charter School is on State Road in London Grove in the old Avon Grove High School building.
Guests at the Farm-to-Table dinner enjoy the first course of the meal on Saturday.
Members of the charter school’s “Green Team” talk about their adventures on the farm.
Cupcakes made from the charter school’s bees’ honey sit ready for dessert at the dinner.