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Partridge Creek Farm-to-School program ready for season at Ishpeming Middle School

ISHPEMING, Mich. (WLUC) – A cool, rainy Wednesday gave Partridge Creek Farm a fresh start Farm to School Program this year — in partnership with Ishpeming Public Schools.

The program’s group of sixth graders revisited the community garden they helped plant last summer.

“Today was about the senses. So we sat in the garden and they named five things they saw, four things they felt and three things they heard,” said said Emily Bateman, a farm educator at Partridge Creek Farm School, who is attending her sophomore year.

And then the students then tasted and smelled the fruits and vegetables of their labor, as detailed sixth grader Derek Meyer, who is the son of Ishpeming Public Schools Superintendent Carrie Meyer.

What was your favourite?

Meyer: Probably the carrots.

Did you like spinach?

Meyer: Uh. Type of!

Did you dare to try the others?

Meyer: Yeah I tried celery.

The Sensory Mission delved deeper into the main focus of Wednesday’s session: mindfulness.

The program staff also includes wellness specialists to help drive this lesson through.

“Mindfulness is essentially the practice-presence. And the quickest way to do that is to use your five senses and be out in the garden and working with food – it’s pretty easy work. And we ask the children to develop those five senses whatever activity we are doing that day,” Angie Kates, who is an intern at Suunta Integrative Health Intern and is in the Masters of Social Work program at Northern University of Michigan.

Partridge Creek Farm’s director of programs and partnerships, May Tsupros, said the goal was to bring together nutrition, health, gardening and science – all in one.

“He’s (about) a holistic student. It’s not just about test scores and performance in a classroom. It’s about being a good human but taking care of yourself and others and growing as a community,” Tsupros said.

“It’s fun to hang out with your friends, talk with them, and taste the veggies with them,” Meyer added.

This is the fifth consecutive year of the Farm to School program.

It is currently offered to fifth and sixth graders through a 30-week course – with hands-on instruction in gardening and healthy cooking.

Through grants, Partridge Creek Farm is looking to expand its K-12 program.

“We are in partnership with the Ishpeming public school system. We work very closely with the school, they fiscally sponsor some of our big grants. We have just received a very large grant from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund which is helping us plan the large community farm. We’re just going to keep growing and developing,” Tsupros said.

Visit their website here to learn more about the farm’s programs and projects and how you can get involved with the nonprofit.

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