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Celebrating Women’s Get the job done with Crops in the Rogue Valley: Rebecca Slosberg

Image courtesy of RVF2S Fifth-quality college students from Orchard Hill Elementary Faculty in Medford make farm-fresh vegetable soup during a area journey to Hanley Farm in Central Point.

Image by Rhonda Nowak Rebecca Slosberg of Rogue Valley Farm to Faculty aids out pupils at Phoenix Elementary plant seeds in elevated beds in the university back garden. The young children get weekly yard time via the Farm to University application.

Photo by Rhonda Nowak Rogue Valley Farm to Faculty education director Rebecca Slosberg in the yard at Phoenix Elementary University. RVF2S functions with all three colleges in the Phoenix-Talent School District.

Editor’s take note: This is one particular in a sequence of tales about females gardeners in the Rogue Valley.

“We can´t know what we haven´t been taught.”

— Barbara Kingsolver, “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Calendar year of Foodstuff Existence,” 2007

Barbara Kingsolver tells a story about Malcolm, a kid who utilised to hold all around her partner, Steven’s, vegetable yard. Steven lived in the city at the time, and his backyard garden was some thing of a community curiosity, particularly for Malcolm who “had a adore-dislike point with the strategy of vegetables touching the grime.”

One particular day, Steven pulled a carrot out of the earth and showed it to Malcolm and his close friends. He told the boys that carrots are roots, and he requested them if they could believe of other food items that may be root veggies.

Kingsolver writes, “Malcolm checked with his friends, making use of a lifeline before confidently submitting his ultimate respond to: ‘Spaghetti?’”

We can’t know what we haven’t been taught.

It was 15 years ago that Kingsolver wrote “Animal, Vegetable, Wonder,” a chronicle of her family’s one-calendar year experiment with consuming only regionally manufactured meals. These days, my guess is there are several faculty-aged small children in urban and suburban communities who could solution Steven’s issue accurately, and one particular motive is due to the fact of programs like Farm to College.

The F2S movement started out in the late 1990s as a grassroots application in California when a handful of mom and dad and educators made a decision to do a thing about the rising levels of processed food stuff served in school cafeterias and the mounting concentrations of weight problems amongst faculty-aged youngsters.

20-5 decades afterwards, the USDA Farm to Faculty Census described that far more than 42% of the nation’s colleges — 23.6 million learners — have participated in F2S plans. In addition, the USDA approximated that $789 million has been spent through the F2S initiative on procuring domestically produced food stuff from farmers.

Farm to University systems have been rising in Oregon. According to the 2019 USDA F2S Census, there are 958 participating faculties in our state, with a lot more than 431,000 pupils served. Eighty-9 p.c of the collaborating educational institutions provide domestically created food stuff, 67% offer food and nourishment education and learning, and 45% of the schools have edible gardens that also serve as outdoor lecture rooms.

We are fortuitous to have Farm to School plans in the Rogue Valley. RVF2S is a lady-led firm with the mission of educating children about our meals program by palms-on farm and backyard actions. I lately achieved up with schooling director Rebecca Slosberg in the backyard at Phoenix Elementary, one of eight taking part colleges in the Phoenix-Talent and Central Place school districts.

The kids had been mastering how to plant seeds and measure length in between rows in some of the raised garden beds. Primary the team was RVF2S educator Alicia Loebl, assisted by intern Luke Thomason. Alicia presents weekly backyard garden time for each and every class at Phoenix Elementary, and works with teachers to enable them incorporate gardening into the curriculum.

“We’ve figured out that it’s definitely advantageous for academics to be out in the yard with their pupils,” Rebecca reported. “With the [RVF2S] yard educator in the direct, the classroom instructors have an opportunity to interact with their learners in a additional casual way.”

Rebecca pointed out that backyard time supplies social and psychological, as properly as educational, rewards. “A yard is such a serene, nurturing area to be. It is empowering for pupils to discover how to increase their possess food stuff and to have one thing they feel liable for. Students discover how to work alongside one another to accomplish gardening jobs.”

The young children also get to consume the foods they increase. Each and every thirty day period, college students harvest their crops and the backyard educator sets up a tasting table so pupils can vote on their favorites. “Kids will say they don’t like greens, but it’s diverse when they enable choose them new from the garden,” Rebecca said.

Certainly it allows that RVF2S harvest educator Deanna Waters-Senf is a innovative chef and a whiz at getting ready new vegetables in new methods for pupils to attempt.

The Farm to Cafeteria software is a collaboration in between RVF2S and community farmers to offer refreshing, regionally created foodstuff in college cafeteria foods. Not only does the plan guidance youngsters in establishing healthful taking in behavior, it also supports local food stuff growers and businesses.

Throughout the 10 several years Rebecca has labored with RVF2S, she’s noticed the Farm to Cafeteria program mature appreciably, but she admits it is still an “uphill struggle to make alterations in faculty food stuff.”

I questioned Rebecca how she came to be involved with RVF2S. “The outside was usually my pleased place,” she explained, which led to an desire in getting pure science courses as an undergraduate at Humboldt Condition College, where she attained a diploma in anthropology. She labored with the Nationwide Park Assistance as a ranger major interpretive hikes and nature packages, and then as an educator at an outside science-primarily based university in San Luis Obispo, California.

Rebecca moved to the Rogue Valley to total her master’s degree in environmental training at Southern Oregon College. For her thesis, she conducted a survey to master extra about environmental instruction programs in our area, and which is when she turned included with RVF2S.

One working day she introduced a team of higher faculty-aged boys in foster care to Eagle Mill Farm in Ashland so they could harvest veggies and prepare dinner a food with them. “Seeing how significantly the boys relished it, seeing them decide the food items, make it and try to eat it, experienced a massive impact on me,” Rebecca recalled. “I realized then that undertaking this form of operate is wherever I needed to head.”

A decade later on, Rebecca however loves her operate, which has transitioned from school-based educator to supervisor and director roles. “It’s been a wonderful journey,” Rebecca explained. “Anytime I get down, I go into a backyard and see the young children. It is this sort of a worthwhile point to be capable to carry to the college students.”

Obtain out additional about the Rogue Valley Farm to College applications at Look at out much more of my dialogue with Rebecca on the January episode of my podcast “Celebrating Women’s Work with Crops in the Rogue Valley” at

Rebecca’s favorite plant

“The vine maple (Acer circinatum) is a single of my beloved vegetation. It’s Oregon’s native version of the Japanese maple. Vine maples’ shiny environmentally friendly color is amazingly gorgeous. It’s a riparian plant that grows in the vicinity of streams, so it supplies gains to the ecosystem. It is hardy and adaptable. From time to time we start out off our yard educator meetings by asking everybody what plant they’re feeling like that working day. When I’m sensation superior, I say I’m feeling like a vine maple.”

Inspiring garden literature

“I love to examine Barbara Kingsolver’s books. I delight in how she weaves her science history into the stories, and her way of thinking about plants and the natural environment actually resonates with me. I have also been inspired by Robin Wall Kimmerer’s reserve “Braiding Sweetgrass.” Her background as a botanist and an Indigenous person, and her way of contemplating about the relationship involving humans and crops, is truly inspiring to me.”

Inspiring females

“As everybody knows, these earlier two decades have been particularly difficult, but 1 of the silver linings for me has been collaborating in a whole lot of on the net workshops and courses where by I have been in a position to fulfill colleagues in the F2S world from all about the state. It’s been the most inspiring detail to me to interact with all of these amazing females who are so resourceful and passionate about bringing gardens and gardening activities to students.”

Rhonda Nowak is a Rogue Valley gardener, instructor and writer. E mail her at

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