March 2010

Minutes from the Sunday Supper Club
March 14th, 2010

Proving once again that the SSC is the place to be on the second Sunday of the month, we enjoyed a terrific presentation by Trista Scheuerlein of the Rappahannock Farm to Table program.  Thank you Trista for sharing your time and knowledge with us!

Five Minute Flash Reports

Treasurer’s Report- Appearing as Lisa Richard this evening, David Roos reported that we collected $130.00 at our last meeting, bringing our treasury total to $624.

Bargaining for Our Lives- Local Author Jennifer Heyns spoke with us about her new book, a guide to navigating the world of healthcare without insurance.  In her book, she shares stories of her family’s experiences over the last 8 years and explains the lessons they have learned.  Through writing this book, Jennifer hopes to provide information which will further the cause of improving our nation’s health care system.
Visit www.jenniferheyns.com for more details or to purchase a copy of the book.

Piedmont Regional Art Show and Sale- Georgia Herbert encouraged us to support the art sale benefiting Grace Episcopal Church in The Plains.  The show will be held on Mother’s Day weekend: Friday, May 7th 6-8:30PM, Sat. May 8th, 10AM-5PM and Sunday May 9th, 10AM-3PM.  If you are interested in entering art work in the show you may download entry forms at www.gracechurch.net.  For more information email piedmontartshow@gmail.com or call 540-253-5177.

Felon Disenfranchisement- Linda Swanson reported on a roundtable discussion she attended sponsored by the Virginia chapter of Progressive Democrats of America.  Virginia and Kentucky are the only states in the nation which permanently deny the right to vote to anyone convicted of a felony.  In Virginia, the only recourse available is an appeal to the governor which can be denied without explanation.  Although they have already paid their debt to society, as many as 310,000 Virginians, a large number of whom are trying to become contributing, law-abiding members of the community, are restricted from full citizenship.  African Americans are disproportionately affected, constituting less than 20% of the voting age population yet making up 52% of Virginia’s disenfranchised citizens.

Several Virginia legislators have introduced amendments to the state constitution to right this wrong.  On the national level, Rep. Conyers and Sen. Feingold have introduced the Democracy Restoration Act.  For more information on this act visit:

http://www.brennancenter.org/content/resource/democracy_restoration_act_of_2008/

http://www.aclu.org/files/images/asset_upload_file494_39408.pdf

“No Food (or utensils) Left Behind”- Patty Knight asked that we make things easier on the clean up crew by remembering to take home anything that is left over from our contribution to the potluck as well as all accompanying plates/serving spoons etc.  As much as we appreciate the delicious dishes supplied by SSC members, cleaning up all the leftovers can be a daunting task.  Your help is much appreciated!  Patty also reiterated that all are welcome at our meetings with or without a food contribution!  As David often says, “In the SSC’s version of America, no one goes hungry.”  I think this means he’s even willing to share his brownies ☺

Farmer Girls- Deb Williamson, co-founder of Farmer Girls, gave us the good news that Farmer Girls is up and running. The membership fee is only about $1.00 a week and provides access to the freshest, tastiest, safest, most nutritious food around.  Plus, they provide recipes for those cooking challenged among us. Visit http://farmergirls.net/ for more information.

Recycling Center Update- Trish Ethier sent along an announcement with a few notices concerning recycling.
• Spring/summer Thursday hours will be 11AM to 7PM at the remote convenience sites.
• In celebration of Earth Day month the Fauquier County Environmental Services Department will be recycling resident and farm passenger tires brought in during the month of April at a half price of $1.50.  Tires are accepted Monday through Saturday at the Corral Farm Bulk Recycling Area, adjacent to the Corral Farm Landfill.
• Coming soon, all remote convenience sites will be accepting aluminum and steel cans comingled with plastics #1 and #2.  The mixed glass container will accept only glass.  Look for new signs.
• Visit the Environmental Services Department website at www.fauquiercounty.gov for all your waste and recycling needs.

Bio-sludge- Becky Verna shared information prepared by her husband Nick on the potential application of biosolids (human waste or “sludge”) in Fauquier County.
• The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has granted the first of 3 proposed permits for the application of bio-sludge as fertilizer to over 4000 acres of farm land in Fauquier County.
• Sludge is a by-product of waste treatment plants; it is a concentrated source of industrial chemical wastes, human wastes, and everything that wasn’t removed during the treatment process.
• No one knows what possible harmful contaminants are in a tanker of sludge.  Testing is done only periodically and only for the types of contaminants (for example, heavy metals and e-coli bacteria) that were written into the original laws.  The laws are antiquated, written before the widespread use of drugs (antibiotics, birth control, steroids, anti-depressants etc.) and before there was much evidence of the effects of these drugs on our ecosystem.  Even if proper testing were made mandatory, there are currently no easy ways to render the sludge non-contaminated without also destroying its value as a fertilizer.
• Under current laws, the only way to block the application of sludge to farmlands in Fauquier is to have a public hearing for each and every one of the proposed permits.
• A public hearing has been granted by DEQ for the first of the 3 proposed permits.  The hearing will take place on Tuesday March 16h at Liberty H.S.  Comments may be filed through March 31st.
• Please feel free to contact Nick Verna at nick@vernafamily.com for more information on this important subject.

Guest Speaker- Trista Scheuerlein

“Introducing the Farm to Table Program: Growing Agriculture, Nutrition and Community in Public Schools”

We were so pleased to be joined by Trista Scheuerlein of the Rappahannock Farm-to-Table Program.  She spoke with passion about the immense benefits of this program for the students, the community and for our rural agricultural-based economy.

Trista is an employee of both Headwaters and the Rappahannock County School System.  Farm-to-Table is a Headwaters program in partnership with RCPS and other community organizations.  The mission of Farm-to-Table (taken from the Headwaters brochure Trista so conveniently provided) is to:

“Seek to captivate and cultivate students who will become goods stewards of the Earth and productive community members.  Through the classroom study of horticulture and nutrition, the building, planting and maintenance of school gardens, and hands-on-experiences at local family farms, students see food come to life.  The program engenders an appreciation of Rappahannock County’s agrarian culture and a sense of how to preserve it.  Farm-to-Table celebrates farming traditions and teaches state-of-the-art farming techniques, reinforcing the value of conservation, and introducing ideas for land-friendly careers.”

In Rappahannock County Agriculture and Tourism rank #1 and #2 in the economy.

The many benefits of the program include:
• Reaching out to academic AND vocational students and encouraging cooperation between the two.
• Growing food for students’ own cafeterias.
• Encouraging engagement with growing and eating quality foods through work on small family farms.
• Providing students an opportunity to grow food which develops a sense of pride and self-esteem.
• Creating and maintaining edible and ornamental gardens on school property which enhance the beauty of the school grounds.

Students from Elementary School through High School participate in programs including: building and maintaining raised vegetable beds, butterfly gardens, using rain barrels, maintaining gardens and green houses, planting apple trees and taking tours to local farms.

Additionally, students gain hands on business experience through their annual community plant sale.

So What?

• Working outside is good for student bodies.
• Obesity is a growing epidemic
1. The # of obese children in the U.S. has more than doubled since
the 1970’s.
2. 30% of American teens are overweight; 15% are obese.

• Malnutrition/improper nutrition are associated with behavioral, emotional, and academic problems.
• Studies have shown that as a result of eating healthier foods students experience lower truancy rates, improved attention, more manageable anger management issues and fewer impulsive behaviors.

History of Farm-to-Table (F2T)
• Began in RCPS in 2004 in the horticulture class.  In VA, horticulture counts as a science class and provides a much needed science credit for some college bound and non-college bound students.
• In March of ’04 the students built 13 raised beds.

• During the ’04-’05 school year, 20 students were enrolled in F2T and classes such as culinary arts, business arts, special education and building trades were integrated into the program.

• The 2005-2006 school year saw the launch of an exploratory class for 6th and 7th graders and well as the initiation of the Farm-to-Cafeteria project.  The Farm-to-Cafeteria program was complicated by the need to adhere to Department of Agriculture and Department of Health standards.
• 3-4 seasonal and local food tastings are held each year, sponsored by F2T and prepared by the culinary arts students.

• By the 2006-2007 school year, the horticulture class was in such demand that a fall section was added.  The F2T class for 6th and 7th graders filled quickly and had a waiting list.
• Teachers of subjects such as environmental science, chemistry, 6th grade science and others began to recognize the F2T program as a great resource for them.  Other sciences and SOL’s were integrated into the curriculum.
• The “Young Farmland Fund” funded a garden at the elementary school; giving kids ownership of a project leads to a greater likelihood that they will eat the foods grown there.
• F2T directly impacted 17% of RCPS students.

• In 2007-2008 the asparagus project began.

• In 2008-2009 a hoop house was built to better match the growing season with the school year.
• Over 25 pounds of lettuce and salad greens were donated to the school.

• 2009-2010 saw an increase in local foods in the school cafeteria as well as the first Virginia Farm-to-Cafeteria week.
• F2T worked on developing a replicable curriculum.
• F2T graduates found increasing job opportunities.

*Scribes note- much more happened every year than what you see above but sadly I do not take shorthand and I couldn’t keep up (and in my attempt to write quickly some of my notes are illegible even to me).  Sorry ☹

Closing Quote:  “Our best crop: students who care about agriculture and nutrition.”

One of the great things about the SSC is that I am constantly learning about wonderful resources/programs that I did not know existed!  I encourage everyone to check out the Farm to School website at: http://www.farmtoschool.org/state-programs.php?action=detail&id=55&pid=129

And www.headwatersfdn.org  In addition to the Farm-to-Table, Headwaters offers other great community projects such as “Next Step”, “Starfish Mentoring” and “Mini-grants for Teachers.”

Save the Dates
You won’t want to miss the interesting meetings we have planned!

April 11th- Beth Panilaitis of Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty

May 16th-  TBA  Please note we are meeting on the 3rd Sunday of May as we want to avoid a conflict with Mother’s Day.