Meet Robert Ramming, the owner of Pacific Star Gardens, a small farm in Yolo County, at the upcoming Farms & Schools Marketplace Exchange. November 12th, Wednesday, 2pm-4pm, reception follows. Norton Hall, 70 Cottonwood St. Woodland 95695. He’s been selling fresh produce to the Woodland Joint Unified School District for nearly two years.
When Spencer Springer became Food Service Director at the Woodland Joint Unified School District less than two years ago, he met with Robert and they started talking about how they might work together.
“It’s our second season now, selling to the Woodland School Food Service, and we’re still working on what works, what the kids will eat and what they won’t,” says Robert. And what so far, do the kids like that comes fresh, straight off the farm?
When schools starts in late August, tomatoes and melons are in the full flush of their season, lasting until late September, and the kids loved those. Robert, with the aid of shade cloth, is able to grow large quantities of lettuce, even in the hot Sacramento Valley sun, and the kids liked the lettuce as well.
A surprising kid favorite turned out to be Tokyo white turnip which was a new introduction on the salad bar last year, and Robert says the students really liked it. The Tokyo white is a small, tender turnip about the size of a round radish and quite mild compared to the larger, more familiar, purple-topped storage types of turnips.
When it comes from Pacific Star Gardens, Spencer knows he is serving food fresh off the farm food to the students. Robert harvests and delivers his produce the same day. The fresh vegetables appear primarily on the salad bar thus far, but both Spencer and Robert hope to see more and more scratch cooking in the school lunch kitchens, which will mean the students will get an increasing quantityi of fresh vegetables and also begin to explore the different kinds and varieties of vegetables. Who knows what next after Tokyo turnip? Candy-striped beet, maybe?