Coupeville Farm to School board member Anne Harvey, Superintendent Steve King and first grader Henry Purdue plant a tree in the Farm to School program’s new orchard. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

Coupeville Farm to School board member Anne Harvey, Superintendent Steve King and first grader Henry Purdue plant a tree in the Farm to School program’s new orchard. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

Farm to School program branches out

The Coupeville Farm to School program is on its way to planting even deeper roots.

Saturday morning, members of the nonprofit program, students, families and the district superintendent planted 30 trees in the program’s newly established orchard.

In addition to its goal of teaching students where their food comes from and how to grow it, the school garden’s leaders are hoping to eventually support the schools’ cafeterias with its products, according to Liz Sherman, who sits on the steering committee.

To fund the orchard, the program is seeking individuals, groups and families to sponsor the trees. A donations of $75 purchases one apple or pear tree, fertilizer and fence posts, and donors will receive a sign with their names on it in the orchard. Sherman said not all of the 30 trees have been purchased yet.

Farm to School Garden Coordinator Zvi Bar-Chaim said he hopes the community will be involved and “have a sense of ownership” over the new venture.

Most of the trees will grow apples and four will grow pears — eventually. Bar-Chaim said it could take three to five years before any fruit is actually produced.

“We thought now would be as good as time as any to get that going,” he said.

Sherman said there are also plans to put in fencing to keep deer away, install drip irrigation and plant a cover crop to enrich the soil. Bar-Chaim will be using the site, which is just minutes away from the schools, to teach students about growing and maintaining fruit trees, what the soil needs and what pests might be attracted.

For students taking the high school agriculture class, it will serve as a “good small-scale” environment for them to learn about how to produce food commercially, he said.

The orchard sits on school district property near the elementary school.

The Farm to School program is designed to integrate garden use for math, science, art and language arts classes. Long-term, the program’s leaders hope the growing site will be able to generate revenue to sustain its operations.

Donations to the program can be made at www.coupevillefarm2school.org

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