SAU No. 5
Superintendent James Morse
36 Coe Drive
Durham, NH 03824
For Immediate Release
Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017
Media Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Oyster River Partners with UNH Thompson School to Receive Fresh Veggies for Students
DURHAM — Superintendent James Morse is pleased to announce that Oyster River Cooperative School District is working with the University of New Hampshire’s horticultural program to provide students with fresh, local vegetables every week.
Beginning this month, the UNH Thompson School of Applied Science, under the leadership of Horticulture Facility Manager Jonathan Ebba, began supplying Oyster River with hydroponically grown greenhouse vegetables.
Doris Demers, Child Nutrition Director for Oyster River, who is always looking for ways to buy local and bring fresh options to students, partnered with Ebba in the spring to increase their local vegetable selections.
“I’ve always felt strongly about buying local because everyone knows fresh is the best and the longer a vegetable is off the plant, the more nutrients it loses,” Demers said. “Because we’re in New Hampshire, the growing season is short and there are few things available. But now that we’re working with Jonathan and the Thompson school, we’re able to get locally grown veggies year round.”
Although still in the first few weeks of the partnership, Oyster River is already seeing the fruits of the Thompson School’s labor, receiving 90 heads of lettuce and more than 40 pounds of other vegetables.
In the coming months, as production of the greenhouse crops increases, the Thompson School will provide Oyster River with 35 pounds of tomatoes, 85 cucumbers, 65 green peppers and 120 heads of lettuce (Romaine and Buttercrunch) a week. They’ll also include more unique items, depending on what’s available, including baby bok choy, kale and micro greens.
“I am very excited for this collaboration,” Ebba said. “Hydroponics is the future of fresh, local produce in New England. As our students gain real-life experience operating a hydroponics enterprise, they know that the fruits of their labor will help to nourish children in our community.”
“I think it’s really important that kids know what goes into growing their food, and the fact that our hydroponics production is so local to them is great,” added Thompson School student Rose Marston. “Hydroponics is such a new concept for a lot of people, but it’s definitely worth educating people about.”
Since incorporating fresh foods — like local meat, poultry, fish, baked goods and fruit in addition to a hearty supply of vegetables — into the district’s meal plans in 2012 when Demers started at Oyster River, she has noticed a dramatic increase in the number of students who eat school meals.
Today, throughout the district, Oyster River prepares more than 1,100 lunches a day, compared with approximately 550 five years ago. The middle and high schools, along with the two elementary schools all have salad bars stocked with the fresh local greens and students often request items like salmon and Brussels sprouts instead of chicken nuggets and pizza.
“I think kids recognize the quality of fresh, local foods and are interested in exploring their options in ways they never were before,” Demers said. “Our goal is that students will continue these healthy eating habits throughout their time at Oyster River and beyond.”
About the Oyster River Cooperative School District:
New Hampshire SAU 5, the Oyster River Cooperative School District serves 2,100 students in Durham, Lee and Madbury. It is one of the oldest cooperative districts in the state. The Oyster River Cooperative School District has a long history of providing excellent educational opportunities for its students. The District is committed to and supportive of quality education. This commitment and support have helped the district recruit and maintain an excellent teaching staff and outstanding administrative leadership team.