Local students learn about strawberry growing


(PHOTO: Becca McKnight and Javier Zamora hand out strawberry samples to students at MacQuiddy Elementary School on Friday)

WATSONVILLE—MacQuiddy Elementary students were given a special treat Friday when local farmer Javier Zamora visited during lunch break to teach them about strawberries.

Zamora, who runs JSM Organics out of Aromas, set up a table at the side of the school’s cafeteria and covered it with cases of different strawberry varieties. It didn’t take long for the children to notice.

Becca McKnight, from Pajaro Valley Unified School District’s Food & Nutrition Services stood guard in front of the strawberries, promising the eager students that no one would leave empty handed—they just had to wait their turn.

“It’s great, seeing them so excited for fresh fruits and veggies,” McKnight smiled. “And they really are at the prime age to get interested in where it all comes from.”

The event, dubbed a “Know Your Farmer Taste Test”, is part of PVUSD’s Harvest of the Month Program. Every month, a locally-grown fruit or vegetable is featured in every student’s school lunch.

To create the program, McKnight brought in her expertise as a service member with FoodCorps, a subset of AmeriCorps which aims to connect kids to healthy food in their schools.

Linda Liu, RD, Director of PVUSD’s Food & Nutrition Services, praised McKnight for her work at MacQuiddy, which she hopes will inspire other schools to follow.

“This is what we call a ‘focus school’,” she explained. “And so far it’s been a big success.”

Javier Zamora was of a similar mindset as he looked out into the cafeteria before his presentation to the students.

“I’m so grateful that the PVUSD reached out to our farm, to connect kids to where their food comes from,” he said. “It makes me really happy.”

Liu and McKnight also pointed out the school's new salad bar, which was donated last year by Tour du Fresh as part of their salad bar program. Ohlone Elementary will follow MacQuiddy this month in becoming part of the program.

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