ASAP shares Farm to School stories

Forget Dora, local cucumbers are what’s cool: Students from Cullowhee Valley School created mini-gardens with cucumbers and crackers to learn about local food. Photo courtesy of ASAP.

There’s been a noticeable back-to-school buzz around area elementary schools recently. It’s not kids talking about a coveted new character lunchbox or even what neat things they did over the summer. Haven’t you heard? They’re talking about fresh local cucumbers and edible garden plots.

Why cucumbers? September is cucumber month in Growing Minds’ Get Local @ Schools initiative, in which schools feature a local in-season ingredient — much like its parent Get Local community campaign at restaurants, retailers and tailgates.

At Cullowhee Valley School (CVS), Debbi Madill’s kindergarten classroom kicked off its first cooking demonstration by learning about cukes. They read Cucumber Soup, a book about the adventures of a colony of ants whose anthill has been squashed by a cucumber. The tale prompted a class discussion on cucumbers and other veggies growing in their school garden.

Afterward, they began imagining their snack gardens. Using crackers covered in hummus or cream cheese, students “planted” cucumbers here and peppers there. Of course, they eventually ate the gardens.

ASAP Farm to School fellow Monica Gatti reports that many CVS students couldn’t wait to taste their concoctions. “We tried to get the students to wait to eat their final garden plot crackers together,” she says, “but many of them just couldn’t and were sneaking tastes of the crunchy veggies!”

Through ASAP’s Local Food and Farm to School Education Project, Gatti leads regular cooking classes and taste tests with students at CVS.

“I would really like to have this recipe to make at home,” one first-grader told Gatti after finishing his plot. The recipe is easy to follow: just wash and slice the veggies, spread hummus or cream cheese on a cracker and arrange the vegetables in any pattern you desire.

If parents are worried their kids might shy away from all the fresh vegetables, they can share this encouragement from another CVS first-grader: “All you have to do is try. You might really like it!”

The garden plot crackers activity is adapted from ASAP's cooking in the classroom lesson plan. More activities and recipes can be found at

Maggie Cramer is ASAP’s communications manager; she can be reached at


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Webmaster
Mountain Xpress Webmaster Follow me @MXWebTeam

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

One thought on “ASAP shares Farm to School stories

  1. Helen C. Webb

    I’ve been unpleasantly surprised at how many young people in our lush farming community don’t eat fresh vegetables! I’m sure your program will have a positive effect. You simply can’t watch something grow and not love it. Creation before your eyes! Good job.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.