Wonderful folks

To the Editor:

The students and staff of the Chilmark School extend heartfelt thanks to the many wonderful folks who made our series of six Local Lunches possible.

First and foremost, wonderful and talented volunteer chef Robert Lionette, who gave so much of his time and knowhow to our students. He truly seemed to enjoy himself to the fullest while working with the apprentice chefs (grades K-5). Under his gentle yet expert tutelage, our students enjoyed and learned about sourcing, preparing, and eating local food.

The lunches could not have happened without parent Lindsey Scott and her faithful volunteers. These dedicated parents and friends transformed the Chilmark Community Center space into a giant, family dinner setting. Tablecloths for the tables, cloth napkins, and real dishes for our mid-day meal, and even centerpieces beautified the table tops; all were graciously provided and swiftly cleared away after each meal by this dedicated group of volunteers.

We couldn’t even call it a local lunch without the hardworking and generous farm families who contributed meat, vegetables, corn, potatoes, herbs, flowers, and more. Thanks to them, we had such bountiful local foods to enjoy. Our Island life is surely made richer and better by the efforts of Mermaid Farm and Dairy, Beetlebung Farm, Bluebird Farm, Gray Barn Farm, and Morning Glory Farm. Local herbalist and Chilmark parent Holly Bellebuono provided delicious herb teas for our tables. And, Holly and Melinda Rabbit DeFeo pitched in on some after-lunch lessons at our school.

Robert also had some great professional help. Chefs Jan Buhrman and Dan Sauer gave of their time and skills, products, and foodstuffs. Many thanks go out to them as well.

Through the organizations of Island Grown Initiative and especially Island Grown Schools (with the wonderful Noli Hoye Taylor at the helm), the Parent Teacher Organization of the Chilmark School, and generous voluntary contributions given by parents and friends of Chilmark School, we were able to keep these lunches cost-free, and offer them to all students. Marina Lent of the Chilmark Board of Health graciously offered her guidance, as did all the staff of the town hall, with special thanks going out to Rodney Bunker.

Classroom teachers and teaching assistants, together with principal Susan Stevens were flexible and open to this idea, and the students benefited from the experience. Students served as apprentice chefs, wrote or shared thoughts before each meal, and actually grew and produced some of the ingredients in the meals. They harvested last year’s produce from the garden, grew sprouts for us to enjoy, and ground wheat berries by hand into flour, which they baked into bread sticks for all to enjoy.

After each local lunch, the whole school gathered for special food-based lessons. We learned about bees and pollination, pressed apples into cider, worked in our school garden, learned about hunger and food distribution around the world, studied germination by growing our own fresh vegetables in February in the form of sprouts, studied the science of taste, and did garden visioning projects with words and images.

Students made thank-you notes and gifts for folks who provided so much to make these lunches special.Best of all, we got to watch the Chilmark students as they expanded their idea of what foods they like to eat, grew in their understanding of what food is actually produced here on the Island, and developed their vision of the role they can play in contributing to our community based food system.

Once again, many thanks to all who made these special community local lunches possible.

Lizzy Bradley

Island Grown Schools Coordinator for Chilmark School

Edgartown Teacher

Susan Stevens

Principal

Chilmark School

Robin Smith-K/1

Jack Regan-2/3

Jackie Guzalak 4/5

Chilmark School Classroom Teachers