Want to feel like a kid again?

Board a propane-powered school bus Sunday and you’ll be shuttled to three different elementary and middle schools. But when you get off the bus, instead of facing a crossing guard, you’ll be greeted by gourmet chefs ready to school you in the pleasures of fresh local foods.

Rippling Waters Organic Farm in Standish is hosting a Gourmet Garden Crawl to support its work in Maine school gardens. Workers from the farm have already helped students plant an in-ground garden at George E. Jack Elementary School and raised beds at Edna Libby Elementary School, both in Standish. They’ve also constructed a solar greenhouse at Bonny Eagle Middle School in Buxton.

The gardens are linked to the curriculum, so teachers use the spaces to reinforce what they’re talking about in the classroom. Farm staffers conduct taste tests that introduce kids to vegetables they may never have tried before at home.

At Bonny Eagle Middle School, arugula, beets, Swiss chard, tomatoes and other foods are harvested from the greenhouse on Mondays and Tuesdays to be used in the school lunch program.

“The ultimate goal of this is to try to begin to encourage children to learn about where their food comes from, how to grow it, and ultimately it might actually change their eating habits,” said Richard Rudolph, executive director of Rippling Waters. “In Maine, a third of the kids in this state are either overweight or obese, and it’s becoming a much larger problem as each day goes by, so part of what we’re trying to do is encourage better nutrition.”

The program reaches 1,600 children out of 4,200 students in the school district. The non-profit Rippling Waters would like to sustain that and do more, so it is hosting a progressive dinner to help fund these projects.

Guests at the Gourmet Garden Crawl will begin at the farm with a sampling of hors d’oeuvres. Then they’ll board the buses and travel to each garden site, where local chefs will prepare seasonal Maine foods.

Participating chefs include Jeff Landry from the Farmers Table in Portland, Joshua Mather of Joshua’s in Wells and Earl Morse from Eve’s at the Portland Harbor Hotel.

After dining at each school, guests will be brought back to the farm for dessert, music and a silent auction. Hannah Matthewson from Caiola’s in Portland will be making the desserts.

The silent auction includes 100 gallons of home heating oil, a $200 savings bond, a French dinner for eight, bread from When Pigs Fly, two first-class Amtrak tickets from Boston to New York, two tickets to the Stone Mountain Arts Center and a Casco Bay harbor cruise.

The Rippling Waters staff will also be auctioning off the installation of a small garden.

 

Staff Writer Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at:

[email protected]