Blooming Glen Farm grows over 30 acres of vegetables every season. A lot of those vegetables go to our CSA, which has grown to over 400 participating families. As many of you know, we also attend three weekly farmers markets, sell to a few local restaurants and donate our leftovers to food pantries. But where else does our produce go? We sell a few crops each week to Zone 7.
Zone 7 is a farm fresh-distribution service that connects farmers and chefs. Based in central New Jersey and named after our agricultural growing zone, Zone 7 works exclusively with the region’s best organic and sustainable farmers in New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania to offer fruit, berries, vegetables, mushrooms, eggs, honey, cheese, grain products and other farm-fresh food. Their mission is to strengthen our local and regional food chain by enabling restaurants, grocers and institutions to buy from and support small and medium-sized sustainable farms. Zone 7’s role is to act as a direct link between farmers and chefs.
But it’s not just restaurant purveyors who enjoy local veggies. A few weeks ago thousands of Blooming Glen Farm’s hakurei turnips made their way into the hands of children in the West New York school district, thanks to the innovative thinking of Chef Kim Gray, Regional Chef of Nu-Way Concessionaire, the school districts food service provider.
“We at the West New York school district are part of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable grant from the state. We have six elementary school we provide fresh local produce to. I have been working this year to incorporate more educational learning with the children. I have been going to the classrooms to discuss the produce we are sampling. With the younger grades we talk about the taste, texture, smells, and colors. The older grades we also include how the produce grows and where it comes from. That would be you!!!! It is a great program which we are very proud to be part of. I get all our produce from Zone 7. I feel it is very important to educate the children about why we are called the Garden State”. Chef Kim Gray
Chef Kim Gray attended the Culinary Institute of America and has been featured on Rachel Ray’s television program and in articles across the state. Chef Gray has overseen the meal programs in the West New York school district for five years. Prior to that she worked in corporate and healthcare food service. Her commitment to children and engaging them in making better food choices shows in the many improvements that have been made to the school’s programs. Chef Kim has been involved in working with the school’s staff to encourage healthy eating habits for their students and is currently working on getting her schools involved in First Lady Michelle Obama’s Healthy U.S. Schools initiative.
“The Kindergarten class and I had so much fun trying Hakurei Turnips!!! What a great class lesson on fresh vegetables.” Chef Kim Gray.
Written by Tricia Borneman, photos courtesy of Chef Kim Gray.