Skookum helps press cider for Farm to School lunch

Skookum's Farm to School cider-pressing task force: Coco Hess, Martin Mitchinson, and David Parkinson

On Monday November 28, Coco Hess, Martin Mitchinson, and I got an early start. We picked up Skookum’s cider press from Jan & Gary’s workshop in Westview, and drove up to Wildwood to press apple cider for the James Thomson Elementary School’s second Farm to School lunch. We spent the morning cutting and grinding apples,— with the help of many enthusiastic kids — pressing those apples into beautiful cider.

This all came about because I had been talking with some of the amazing young moms who have been working hard to create a monthly healthy and local school lunch for the schoolchildren at James Thomson. They put together a fantastic salmon lunch for their kickoff event in October and wanted to feature apples for the November lunch. Once they knew that Skookum had a cider press,once the Skookum board of directors had OK’d the donation of the cider press to this good cause, the plan was in motion. Coco and Marty were the lucky volunteers chosen from among quite a group of Skookum members willing to help out,with some extra assistance and equipment from Jacqueline Huddleston we were off and running.

It was a pretty chilly morning, but we warmed up soon enough, what with all the activity and the kids yelling and running around. Just about everyone got a chance to turn the crank to grind the apples to pulp, to throw chopped apples into the hopper, and to help turn the wheel to press the pulp into cider. We had a gas stove and double-boiler so that we could pasteurize the cider for safe consumption. One after another, classes came outside, did their turn at the press and then headed inside for a short video and discussion about healthy juice and sugar content.

The next day I was lucky enough to be able to go to the meal where the kids were served rainbow pasta with local vegetables, yummy coleslaw, bread baked with hand-milled flour by Nancy’s Bakery in Lund, and of course a little bit of apple cider for everyone. It was so lovely to see all the schoolchildren enjoying a delicious and healthy meal with local ingredients. I talked to a few of them and they all raved about the apple cider.

Thanks to Leta, Francine, and all the other parents who worked so hard to make this meal happen. And thanks for inviting Skookum to be a part of it. Special thanks to Coco and Marty for taking half a day out of their busy lives. And of course, thank you to all of the schoolkids of James Thomson who helped make cider.

For more information on the James Thomson Farm to School program, you can check them out on Facebook.