Edible Phoenix Summer 2016 : Page 18

Patti hunted for local food sources. She had to chase down farmers, ranchers and bakers and persuade them to sell to her in the quantities she needed—cases, not pieces, and delivered, please…—but then she usually had to run around to pick them up on her daily commute to the kitchen. But there was another challenge with this: the county health department required that all vegetables, eggs and meat come from an “approved source.” None of these small farms were approved and the health department had no program for certifying them. Standard certification procedures were for the big boys, with big farms. Patti worked with a team of local health department staff and the farmers to suggest a solution, and now these smaller-scale farmers can follow an approval process to legally sell their produce to food service and restaurant kitchens. Around the same time, The Orme School was developing a plan to further their “Farm to Table” initiative. Why not grow the food right here? The campus is ideally located midway between desert and mountains with Ash Creek running right through it. And The Orme School had a history in agriculture; it survived the 1929 depression by growing and selling carrots. Patti honors this tradition by serving carrots at every meal (see sidebar carrot recipe). And so, with the lead of science teacher Emerson “Casey” Jones, and with the encouragement of the headmaster and CFO, they restarted the campus garden and planted a fruit and nut orchard with 200 trees. Casey had an extensive background in horticulture, so he involved the students in the garden and blended the garden experience into his science curriculum. Since the planting in spring 2015, students are now able to experience where their food comes from, from soil to seed to harvest to table. With the newly productive garden, yet another bureaucratic obstacle appeared. Vegetables from the school’s garden could be used in the classroom but were not allowed in the cafeteria. Fortunately, several schools across the state were encountering this barrier at the same time. As a result, the Arizona Depart-ment of Health Services (ADHS) launched their School Garden Program and began helping school gardens to become “approved sources.” Patti enrolled in a mind-boggling two-day class and brought back a three-inch-thick book of commercial regulations for agribiz farms. She asked for help again and walked the property with the state agricultural agents, asking “How am I going to do this?” She worked one-on-one with the Arizona Department of Agriculture and spent three months writing a plan. Her plan was accepted by the agency, and The Orme School’s garden was among the first to be “approved” in Arizona. After that, Patti’s plan was simplified down to a check list, so now the process is easy for other schools to complete. There are now 22 certified school gardens in Arizona—thanks to Patti’s pioneering work. It wouldn’t be fair to say that Patti didn’t also face internal challenges. The leadership at The Orme School was supportive but it’s hard to break the junk food habits of a school full of  &#0f; &#0a;&#1d;&#1d;&#1f; 
 &#0c;&#0b;  &#0b;&#0c;&#0a; your average teenagers. Even though Patti was providing superior quality, wholesome and nutritious food, the students didn’t know it. To help the students synthesize the changes, The Orme School Sustainability Program put students to work for one class period each day on a rotation from garden to kitchen to &#1a;&#1c; &#0d;
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 &#0b;&#1f;&#1e;&#1f;&#0e; I visited Patti on “Meatless Monday” at The Orme School. Meatless Monday is a worldwide campaign to educate the public about environmental problems in animal feeding operations and about the environmental and health bene-fits of reducing meat consumption (meatlessmonday.com). The menu’s “Quinoa Patties served with Blistered Carrots” were delicious. I wondered, “What is Patti’s recipe?” Obviously she’s over the top on passion with a dash of vision and a heaping portion of persistence. She describes herself as her own worst enemy, “always chasing the product and trying to make it better.” Her kitchen is now a picture of clean food, simply prepared with big environ-mental values and a major educational component. This is what it looks like: • Fresh vegetables except for frozen corn, peas and green beans (when those vegetables are out of season) • Nutrient-dense vegetables—characterized by dark colors and full flavors • Avoiding fruits and vegetables if they are on the “Dirty Dozen” high pesticide residue list (see the Environmental Working Group, ewg.com) or buying certified organic for these items • Buying conventional fruits and vegetables that are on the “Clean Fifteen” list with low pesticide residue (see ewg.com) • House-made sauces, dressings, soups, stocks, gravies, jams and syrups • Foods in season with menus planned around them • Whole chickens, antibiotic and hormone free • Orme Ranch beef, raised on the adjacent but independ-ent ranch, and cooking “nose-to-tail” including tongue tacos and stock made from bones • Whole-grain breads, cereals and pasta • A full and exciting salad bar • Limiting but not eliminating processed meats like bacon and sausage • Whole-milk cheese free from rGBH hormones (artificial growth hormone designed to increase milk production) • Whole-fruit desserts, with local fruit when in season • Recyclable paper and plastic ware, used only when needed • 100% composting kitchen; the compost goes back into the garden, full-circle &#1b;&#1b;&#1b;&#1f;&#1e;  &#1f;&#1f;  &#1e;&#1d;

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