Ashley LodatoBy Ashley Lodato

Ski season may be far behind us, but with exciting updates from some of the valley’s top skiers it’s impossible to forget about Nordic sports for long. Sochi athlete Sadie Bjornsen was in town over the weekend and gave a talk about her Olympic experiences to a crowd at the Mazama Community Club on Sunday night. Just a few days earlier, superstar Sam Naney became a father and entered what will most likely be the longest, toughest and most rewarding event of his life.

And high school senior Olivia Ekblad just received news that she was named to an elite group of skiers when she was awarded All-American status at the 2014 Junior Nationals in Stowe, Vt., an honor that comes with a top-10 age class finish at Junior Nationals. This was Olivia’s third trip to Junior Nationals but her first top-10 finish, so she was thrilled with her ninth-place finish in the 1.3-kilometer classic sprint.

The field trip calendar at Methow Valley Elementary School has been packed lately, with classes visiting the Twisp Ponds, Black Pine Lake and various other locations. One particularly popular field trip involved the fourth graders visiting Red Shed—a program of Room One that grows and distributes food to low-income people in the valley via social services agencies.

The 52 fourth graders have participated in Classroom in Bloom programs at the school since they first entered, so even those who come from homes without gardens have a basic familiarity with the principles and processes of farming and gardening. This field trip expanded their knowledge of these subjects and introduced them to food production on a larger scale, as well as both transplanting and direct seeding.

Once at the farm, students moved through several different stations in small groups. One station involved digging trenches and planting seed potatoes, another gave them experience with planting beans on a bean tipi, and a third had them playing team-building games. A fourth station allowed students to study the parts of a flower and then create a beautiful mural of flowers on one wall of the actual red shed. The most popular station by far, however, was the tasting station, which gave students access to the early-season vegetables in the garden, such as spinach, rhubarb, asparagus and radishes.

Says Red Shed founder Kelleigh McMillan, “These were fast little workers! They were really engaged in and excited about the activities. It was neat to work with kids who have such a basic familiarity with gardening from their Classroom in Bloom experience.”