At CRMS, the kitchen and the organic garden work together to provide food that is healthy not only for students and staff but also for the environment. In the CRMS garden, food is produced organically, minimizing the effects on the environment from both cultural practices and transportation.
The CRMS garden has six elements: organic gardens and orchard, a nursery, a composting program, campus landscaping, a public demonstration area of water-wise plants, and a summer internship. While all the elements play an important role, it is the organic gardens and composting program that result in a unique relationship with the school’s kitchen.
Currently the 1.75-acre organic garden produces carrots, onions, beets, raspberries, leeks, kale, Swiss chard, ten different types of lettuce, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cucumbers, peppers, potatoes, four varieties of summer squash, six varieties of winter squash, rhubarb, asparagus, ten varieties of greenhouse tomatoes, tomatillos, turnips, rutabagas, green and yellow beans, eggplant, cucumbers, hot and sweet peppers, garlic, basil, and 15 culinary herbs. In addition, the orchards produce apples and apricots.
One-hundred percent of this harvest goes to the CRMS kitchen program. Beginning in mid-March, students and staff start bringing in the fruit and vegetables and continue through late November. While the students are gone for the two summer months, only 10% of the harvested foods are served to visiting groups and staff. Throughout the year, 33% of the produce utilized by the school will have originated from the CRMS garden.
In addition to the food harvest, all of the food waste and paper products from the cafeteria are collected and composted by a student service crew. During the nine months that school is in session, this comprises 750 pounds of waste weekly. The composting piles are ready for spreading on the gardens within a year. This composting effort keeps over 31,000 pounds of waste out of the landfill annually.