October 4, 2012


Sprouting sustainability

Homer students learn about local foods, recycling

StudentsBob Ellis/staff photographer
Homer Elementary School kindergartners, from left, Braydon Hoffman, Cooper Burt, Jack Bertram and Brihanna Stanley listen intently while learning about a kale plant Wednesday afternoon during the Homer Farm To School Food Fest on the Village Green. Students learned about growing and eating fresh produce as well as recycling. The program was organized by Sustainable Cortland and Oh My Goodness Health Food Store.

Staff Reporter

HOMER — The remains of a family meal find different destinations, from recycling to composting, Homer Elementary School students learned Wednesday.
The students in kindergarten, first and second grades also heard talks from a range of agriculture educators about how food is grown and made into meals, such as locally produced maple syrup, flour and eggs being used in baked goods.
The afternoon event at the Village Green was called Homer Farm to School Food Fest, part of the National Farm to School Month and the state’s Harvest for New York Kids Week.
Students took turns hearing about baking with local products from Tomi Jacobs-Ziobro of The Owl and the Pussycat, a Homer gourmet baked goods maker; growing food from Dutch Hill Farm’s owners; growing lettuce with water cycled between the plants and a fish aquarium below, called aquaponics, from the owners of Main Street Farms; and composting from students in the Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES New Visions environmental science class.
The other presenters included Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District. The event’s sponsors were Sustainable Cortland and Oh My Goodness Health Food Store.
McGraw High School senior Sara Dougherty of the BOCES class led the lesson on composting as students sat in front of her answered questions about what should be recycled and what could be added to a compost bin.
Teacher Susan Urban’s first-grade class said a plastic water bottle could be recycled for 5 cents, a soda can could go into recycling but an apple core and egg shell could be composted.
Dougherty held up some items while others were drawn on flip charts shown by another BOCES student.
Items that would be worth 5 cents in recycling went to Cortland High School senior Nathan Hamilton, who held them in a collection. Food remains went into a compost bin.
“It’s important to know what to do with waste, not just throw it in the garbage disposal,” Dougherty said between groups of children. Hamilton said talking about composting was “definitely a cool thing to do, recycling food to get soil to produce more food.”
“This is part of our science curriculum, part of life skills,” said Urban, whose daughter Maria, a Homer High School senior, helped with the presentation. “This teaches them a sense of taking care of our Earth.”
Jacobs-Ziobro said the children liked the cookies made with local food products and the granola. Kindergartners saw the baked goods, first-graders got to smell them and second-graders got to buy them with donated money.
Main Street Farms co-owner Bob Cat said Homer students are likely to know where food comes from, if he asks.
“They say seeds, plants, animals and trees,” he said. “A lot of times, kids from more city areas will say food comes from the fridge, grocery store or cafeteria.
Homer kids live in a community with more agricultural ties, so they know better. One boy said he lives on a farm.”
Main Street Farms grows food with the aquaponic method, where water used as a habitat for fish is recycled through growing areas. Bob Cat had a small fish tank with one fish, topped by a tray of lettuce grown from that water, as a demonstration.


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