Prod­ucts of the Avon Grove Char­ter School’s Mi­cro Farm were on dis­play

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Chris Bar­ber cbar­ber@21st-cen­tu­ry­

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.

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