Foodshed Alliance’s LocalShare team recently partnered with students from Ridge and Valley Charter School (RVCS) in Blairstown to cook and serve hot soup to patrons at the Free Produce Market at Norwescap’s Sussex Borough Community and Cultural Center. Arranged by Foodshed Alliance’s LocalShare Coordinator Christine Parauda and RVCS 8th grade Guides (teachers) Maggie Vetter and Dan Egan, the class used produce that they had grown at the school with fresh, gleaned produce from the Community Supported Garden at Genesis Farm (Blairstown) and Circle Brook Farm (Andover) to prepare two different soups to offer at the Free Pop-Up Market on November 17.

The LocalShare team, 11 students and their Guides met in the kitchen at Buck Hill Brewery & Restaurant in Blairstown to prepare soups. The restaurant’s chefs, Tony and Roger, first went over the rules of a commercial kitchen and helped the students hone their already impressive knife skills. Christine, Maggie and Dan helped the students embrace a no-waste policy, understanding that the gleaned produce had been collected as ‘seconds’ and may have some spots, but that it is still perfectly good food, especially for soup! They chopped off any blemished parts and collected them for compost, while ensuring all the good parts went into the soups. Diligently following two recipes, the class created a tomato and a butternut squash soup to serve the next day.

On market day, volunteers set up tables, displayed boxes of fresh fruits and veggies, recipes, nutrition and free health screening information. The RVCS students set up their hot soups and were ready to serve all of the patrons on the chilly evening. By the time everything was set up, there was a line of wrapping around the block. Market attendees were offered the home-made soups as they waited in line – such a great way to warm up for this particular market’s last outdoor event of the year.

The Free Produce Markets in Sussex Borough are hosted in collaboration by the Sussex County Hunger Coalition, which is comprised of organizations like Foodshed Alliance’s LocalShare program, Norwescap – Pathways 2 Prosperity, and NJ SNAP-Ed at Zufall Health, among others. The market on November 17 distributed 832 pounds of produce and 120 dozen eggs to the 85 attending individuals with a household total of 255 people.

The RVCS students made sure that all patrons were offered and served the delicious soups, had their share of plenty of fresh vegetables, and received all of the various community resources available. This annual effort by the students brings together all that is good about living in a community where the value of local food for ALL is shared. This unique project of Ridge and Valley Charter School unites local farms, businesses and social service providers to offer a bowl of nutritious and delicious hot soup to feed neighbors and warm the hearts of all participating.

Learn more about . . 

Ridge and Valley Charter School:
Zufall Health:
Community Supported Garden at Genesis Farm:
Circle Brook Farm: