Hope you caught my instagram takeover with Vitamix last weekend! It was so great teaming up with my favorite company to give away a beautiful Vitamix 5200 along with some of my most recent cookbooks, Clean Green Eats and Clean Green Drinks to a lucky follower!
It was such a pleasure and blessing to read all of your amazing, heartfelt comments! I hope we can do more giveaways of this kind in the future and hope you all continue to follow me and my recipes both on this site and on Vitamix’s site to get healthy, easy, delicious tips on blending!
Congratulations to instagram user @eat.heal.thrive, who is the proud new owner of a beautiful Vitamix and some great new recipes! Her story personally touched me, as she chairs a committee at her son’s school to provide fresh produce from their school garden and donates to their local food pantry. THAT is making a difference and really being involved in your community!
Stephanie received a Masters Degree in French from Middlebury College (in Vermont and Paris) and worked alongside several international companies. It was only after her son was born, battling serious health concerns his first few years of life and his subsequent diagnosis with celiac disease, that her focus shifted to nutrition and the impact that diet has on healing the body and mind. Diagnosed herself with celiac disease at the same time as her son, she came to realize that many of her own health conditions disappeared completely through cleaner eating.
The transition didn’t happen overnight and it wasn’t an easy journey. It was through her lifelong love of food and cooking (learned from her mother) and an appreciation for the central roll food plays in bringing people together (learned from her time living in France) that inspired her to make the change. She has encouraged her three children (ages 12, 10 and 7) to become involved in the process. She stresses the importance of inviting them into the kitchen, helping to prepare fresh food and then sitting down together to enjoy eating it as a family. “My kids are much more inclined to try a bite of something if they’ve had a hand in making it”.
Inspired by an afternoon volunteering at her local CSA, she recently started a home vegetable garden to show her children where their food comes from. They enjoy checking the garden daily to see what is ripe and ready for picking. They seem to agree that everything tastes better when it’s just been picked. The raspberries never even make it out of the garden!
At the Middle School where two of her children attend, she was recently invited to co-chair the Outdoor Learning Center (OLC) Committee. Here, several garden beds are planted and monitored by students for daily curriculum-based lessons. At the other end of the courtyard, a larger grouping of raised cedar beds forms the vegetable garden tended entirely by students, teachers and parent volunteers. Students learn together how to start vegetables from seed and are then invited to “adopt-a-bed” over the summer recess.
The garden provides organically grown heirloom vegetables (grown from seed bought from the Seed Savers Program). A closer inspection of the greenery reveals tomatoes, beans, fennel, okra, cucumbers, heirloom corn, many varieties of herbs, melons, gourds and squashes.
“The local food pantries have no access to fresh produce. We created the OLC garden to fulfill that need.” explains Marisa Dodge a longtime teacher/advisor to the Committee. “Many children don’t know where their food comes from so this garden has served a dual purpose of teaching and giving back to those in need.”
“So far this year, we have donated over 130 pounds of vegetables to our local food pantries,” says teacher Brianna Kehoe, who has served for a decade alongside Mrs. Dodge as advisor to the Committee.
The group meets weekly to tend to the garden and often will hold short student lessons during that time. Our incredible team of parent volunteers has a goal of using Candice’s gifted Vitamix during one of these lessons to further teach the importance of nutrition to our students.
*Note from Stephanie:
I can’t help but mention that this garden exists as a result of the many hands that came together to make it happen. Parents and local business owners donated their time, money and labor to build a walkway inside the courtyard, build/install the raised cedar beds and install a fence and gate to keep the local deer population at bay. It is so inspiring to see what can come into being when the community bands together.