Taste of Hatch Patch dinner gets underway.

The Hatch School garden on the corner of Ridgeland Avenue and Greenfield Street, called the Hatch Patch, produced a whopping 400 pounds of produce this year. The haul included 80 pounds of acorn squash, 62 pounds of butternut squash, and 54 pounds of potatoes! It was also a great year for Shaman Blue popcorn with almost 10 pounds harvested.  

To celebrate the bounty, the students, families and teachers held their ninth annual Taste of Hatch event on a perfect autumn evening for outdoor dining.  

Tables set up on the school parking lot were dressed in white linen and decorated with flowers and greens from the Hatch Patch. Each table was set with a brown bag full of fresh bread, Hatch Patch herbs whipped into butter, and a jar of homemade plum jam made with plums from the Hatch Orchard.

The idea of the event is to taste a variety of foods prepared by local restaurants — and parent chefs — that have used the Hatch Patch vegetables in their entrees. The highlights from the garden this year were potato gnocchi with a butternut squash sauce, stone soup, and baked acorn squash.

Hatch’s new principal and District 97’s new superintendent attended the event, the Hatch music teacher and his wife performed live during dinner, and the much-loved student-group, Conga Club, rounded out the evening with a number of sets as the sun set. The school community considers it the best event because so many hands pitch in to help in one way or another to make it such a great community gathering.

Parent Heather Guido, who coordinates garden volunteers, says she hopes the Bird’s Nest gourds they grew this year will dry and become interesting instruments the children will use in music class next year. “The 5th graders, who also made bilingual garden signs last spring, were super-excited to make garden-grown salsa verde with their Spanish teacher. Art students did a print-making project using garden veggies; and the 4th graders did observation sketches just prior to harvest, which are lovely.”

Hatch is a great example among the many schools in OP and RF that are implementing gardens, teaching children about healthy eating, and providing experiential learning activities that link healthy eating and locally grown food.

— Cassandra West