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October’s Veggie of the Month is Broccoli

The Windham County Farm to School is at it again with their celebration of a different vegetable every month. Back again this year to represent October is Broccoli. Please enjoy the following fun facts about broccoli provided by the Windham County Farm to School!

Fun Facts
Broccoli is in the Brassica plant family, along with its siblings: cauliflower, kale,
cabbage, collards, turnips, rutabagas, Brussels sprouts, and Chinese cabbage. These
vegetables all have similar flowers with four petals. The flowers resemble a small cross,
which explains why these vegetables are also called crucifers.
Broccoli originated in the Mediterranean area, probably in Turkey, and was popular as
far back as the Roman Empire, two thousand years ago. Although broccoli was grown
in the U.S. by Thomas Jefferson in his garden more than 200 years ago, it didn’t
become popular until the 1920’s. That’s when the D’Arrigo brothers came from Italy with
their broccoli seeds. They started a farm in California and soon were growing lots of
broccoli and shipping it as far away as Boston. The name ‘broccoli’ comes from the
Italian word brocco and the Latin bracchium meaning arm, branch, or shoot.
Broccoli is essentially a large edible flower. The head of broccoli is a collection of many
small green flower buds called florets; if you wait too long to harvest broccoli these
florets will open up and become yellow flowers. The flower stalk that holds up the head
is quite edible, and both the head and stalk of broccoli can be eaten raw or cooked. The
bitter leaves that grow below the head are not usually eaten but they are edible and can
be stir fried like other greens such as kale. If you like broccoli, try broccoflower, which is
a cross between broccoli and cauliflower. Broccolini, also called baby broccoli, is
another new vegetable; it’s a cross between broccoli and kale.
Ninety percent of the broccoli grown in the U.S. comes from California. However, a lot of
other states grow broccoli, too – just not as much. Broccoli prefers cool growing
conditions, between 40 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and moist soil. The heads are ready
to harvest in about 100 to 120 days after planting the seeds.
Broccoli is one of the nutritional giants of the vegetable kingdom. It is high in vitamin A
and contains beneficial compounds like carotene and folic acid. A cup of cooked
broccoli has as much calcium as four ounces of milk, and also provides ten percent of
the daily recommended iron requirement. If that’s not enough to convince you to eat
your broccoli, one cup of cooked broccoli also has as much vitamin C as an orange.
By: Vern Grubinger

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Vermont Fresh: A Fruit and Vegetable Handbook

Our wonderful friends down at the Windham County Farm to School program have shared with us this amazing handbook full of great information about traditionally Vermont grown fruits and vegetables and we want to share it with you! Each item is highlighted with a picture, a background, growing tips, storage tips, nutritional benefits, preparation, and best of all, great recipes!

You can download this document at one of the creator’s, Salvation Farms,  blog. Just follow this link –

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July’s Veggie of the Month-Squash

Every month the Windham Country Farm to School program highlights a new vegetable each month in an effort to increase awareness, information and consumption of local and in season vegetables. And even though school is out, they continue this practice all year long. This month’s highlighted veggie is squash.

Windham County Farm to School is just one of many regional Farm-to-School programs that we work with and has been a model for startups around the country.


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June’s Veggie of the Month – Lettuce!

This month’s highlighted vegetable is Lettuce! All over the state we’ve been holding lettuce taste tests and promoting the health benefits of this very versatile and commonly consumed vegetable. It’s common knowledge that generally, the darker the greens, the more nutritious the leaf, but did you know that lettuce is actually a part of the sunflower family?

The picture seen in this post is from The Barstow Memorial School, who last week ran a taste test at lunch with lettuce, spinach and radishes harvested from their school garden.

A quick note on Abbey taste testings: Over the last two decades, we’ve been actively increasing the amount of fresh and whole foods in school lunches. As we’ve made these increases over the years, we’ve noticed that unless students are familiar with the foods, they are hesitant to try them.  In an effort to answer that very problem, we started taste testings during lunch and in the classroom to introduce the foods to kids in a comfortable environment. These taste tests have been very successful and as a result, students have been more likely to choose healthy options.

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