At Near North Montessori, our junior high students are responsible for managing all aspects of our farm to table lunch service. This real work practicum occurs year-round in congruence with a sustainability and social justice based economics curriculum, creating the foundation for the NNM Farm to Table Program. This program is designed to meet the needs of the city adolescent while also providing school-wide economics and practical life learning opportunities wherein younger children, parents, teachers and staff are able to be active participants, contributors and stewards.
OUR URBAN FARM: THE FARMESSORI
The Farmessori at NNM is located a few blocks from the main building. It is both a teaching farm and a year-round working farm that supplies the Sandwich Shoppe with eggs, honey, fruits and vegetables. Through lessons designed around the food cycle and sustainable farming, students of all ages learn how to grow produce and interact with botany in a hands-on way. During the warm months, students are busy cultivating and harvesting a variety of vegetables and flowering plants. Throughout the winter, students maintain crops inside greenhouses, nurture seedlings in grow labs located throughout the school and finally transport those seedlings into the gardens when spring arrives. They work cooperatively year-round to care for chickens and honey bees.
Junior high students working in the Sandwich Shoppe participate in an authentic farm to table partnership by planning meals around both the seasonal harvest and preserved Farmessori produce. Any unused produce is sold at the junior high marketstand in the summer and fall. Lessons taught through the Farmessori lead to engaging conversations about sustainability, stewardship of the earth and equal access to good nutrition.
OUR TABLE: THE SANDWICH SHOPPE
A city certified student-run farm to table lunch business serving Near North Montessori and forming community partnerships locally and globally.
Sandwich Shoppe is a student owned and operated farm to table lunch business that makes 100-150 “made-to-order” lunches daily. The business is completely student-run, and students exercise agency and autonomy when managing the kitchen, the farm, order taking, marketing, accounting, employee management, staff meetings and community partnerships.
Students first apply for jobs, after which they work together to design the menu, prepare the food from scratch and package/deliver lunches. Throughout the course of the year, students also participate in job-related workshops and coordinate community-based professional development city trips designed to facilitate neighborhood partnerships.
Sandwich Shoppe operates out of NNM’s city-certified kitchen and is a self-sustaining business that begins the year with $1,500 of seed money from the prior year’s earnings. At the end of the school year, students donate all profits to local organizations that they have partnered with or reinvest in their business – thereby supporting their local school and city economy. Over the past few years, student initiatives have focused on making Sandwich Shoppe an eco-friendly, healthy and sustainable food business, with students using their business as a platform to teach younger children how to make smart food choices.