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Students make a meal from ground up

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Polson Middle School students would get four stars from any good food critic on Thursday night during the third annual Harvest Dinner.

“We made all this food,” Elizabeth Tolley, 12, said of the buffet style food set up in the school with fresh cherry tomatoes, tangy kale salad, pickles, roasted sun chokes, squash soup, pumpkin chili, bison and wild rice stew, pumpkin bread, roasted beets, fish filets, lasagna, and an assortment of pies.

“We made a pumpkin squash bread that tastes a little squashy,” Tolley said with a smile. “It’s really good, a little sweet with no sugar.”

Rainn Brisbin, 12, and Annabelle Thingelstad, 12, were two of the many cooks in the kitchen. They said it took three days to prepare the meal. Family and Consumer Sciences teacher Julie Duford said the dinner preparation was a success.

“Only one batch of bread got one fourth of a cup of baking soda,” she said happily to the room full of people waiting to line up and eat the meal.

The dinner was made even more special by the fact that the kids grew the vegetables in the school’s garden. Simon Gardner, 13, participated in cooking and growing the meal. He said one of the special things to come out of the garden was a squash the kids named Hubard.

“We rescued Hubard,” he said.

The orange squash was growing through the chicken wire and it was stuck.

“We got it out of the wire,” he said of the class’s careful work to free the squash. Hubard sat center stage during the dinner. Gardener said people should know one more thing about Hubard.

“He was supposed to be a cucumber,” Gardner said. “He crossed with a squash or something.”

The Family and Consumer Sciences class and the Garden Club teamed up to deliver dozens of diced, sliced, and smashed vegetables, not including Hubard, to the public in an array of dishes that the garden club worked all season to grow.

“The entire school gets involved with the garden,” said Amy Williams, special services teacher and unofficial garden coordinator.

Williams said the school started the garden a few years ago, and this year, they had their first official garden class.

“We learn about healthy, local foods and we study foods indigenous to North America,” she said.

The rest of the school incorporates the garden as an outside classroom. The math class measures out square feet for the garden at the beginning of the season and the growth rate for the vegetables once they start growing.

The science class looked at a nitrogen fixation study and helps grow seedlings. The writing class journals about the garden and does research projects with written reports. The school’s leftover lunch is even used as compost.

“We put the garden to sleep in November,” she said. “In December, we start making plans for the next garden.”

Tribal Fisheries donated the fish to the school, other folks donated game meats and apples, which helped make the meal completely local.

Lexie Gallegos is a teacher working with the students from the Food Corps Service with a mission to teach kids about healthy, locally grown foods. “

We are a national nonprofit connecting kids to healthy food in school so they can reach their full potential,” she said. She plans to continue working with the kids.

As far as Hubard goes, he might end up being mixed into bread, but during the dinner, he was the guest of honor. The students plan to save some of his seeds and see if they can grow another one next year.

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