Wilkes Elementary School has been breaking new ground in edible education since their farm-school partnership began with historic Suyematsu & Bentryn Family Farms in 2007. What began six years ago with a handful of teachers and classrooms, has blossomed into a full school program, collaborative planning among district leadership, and comprehensive vision for the school district that was presented to and embraced by the School Board.
The 2011-12 fourth grade class at Wilkes was the first class to graduate having had lived learning experiences each year of the elementary career at the farms. To see the cumulative impact that has had on their academic scholarship, farm stewardship and food citizenship has been impressive.
In Spring 2010, The EduCulture Project made locally grown history through our partnership with Wilkes Elementary School and our Edible Education program at Morales Farm. For the first time on Bainbridge Island, public farmland was seeded in service to public education while growing public produce for the school and community food stream. Through the educational interest and generosity of local farmers and Friends of the Farms a parcel of public land at the Morales Farm was set aside for dedicated farm-school programs on Bainbridge. Master farmers oversaw the project to ensure its agricultural integrity and authenticity.
In Fall 2010, Wilkes students enjoyed the fruits of their labor as they harvested the crops they seeded at the Morales Farm plot last spring. Wilkes students raised over 2,000 lbs. of potatoes, pumpkins and edible sunflowers that went back to classrooms and were donated to the school lunch program, food banks and community groups.
Through our ground breaking local school lunch initiative with Bainbridge School District, more than 1400 students were served locally grown vegetables each week during October, with produce grown by Wilkes students and local farmers during the first ever “Taste of Bainbridge” in the school lunch program. More than 1,500 lbs. of heirloom potatoes, including the Ozette potato that was first cultivated in WA State by the Makah Nation in the late 1700’s, were donated to the school lunch program. Additionally, 360 lbs. of sugar pumpkins were donated to Helpline House.