Vista High’s Garden + Blender Bikes = Fresh, Healthy And Delicious Smoothies

February 01st, 2019

The faces communicated a mix of curiosity, amusement and slight confusion. What were the lime green bikes doing in the quad by the cafeteria? Were those blenders attached to the front of the bikes? How can I ride one of those? What does that green smoothie taste like?

Those comments were all in effect on a recent visit to Vista High School, where the school’s agriculture class, helmed by teacher Sara Benner, and students from Tammie Wood’s ASB class, helped to mix, serve and engage their fellow classmates in conversation about the fresh produce found in some freshly made smoothies.

Students took turns riding the blender bikes and mixing up fresh smoothies

And what made for even more interest at Vista High was that some of the key ingredients in the smoothies had been harvested from the school’s garden just hours prior to the lunch time activity. Parsley, cilantro, cabbage and more were piled nearby to be added to a mixture of fresh fruit and juice. “You can’t eat fresher food than this,” explained one student to another, explaining the ultra-locally sourced veggies that were part of the beverages.

The visit to Vista High School was part of WaveCrest Cafe’s efforts to talk with students about various aspects of nutrition, from the 60+ small California farms that provide fresh produce to the schools, to things like smoothies as healthy alternatives to sugary drinks. A large popup banner served as a backdrop to the smoothie stations, showcasing a large map of the state that shows where much of the fresh food served daily comes from.

The Vista High Agriculture classes work the school’s Culinary Garden, which is certified to sell its produce to the school district and support the garden program.

Vista High’s Agriculture class is heavily involved with Future Farmers of America (FFA), which provides fantastic opportunities to gain relevant, real-world experience in a field that is ripe with opportunity. San Diego County is home to over 4,000 farms, and agriculture is a significant part of the economic and social fabric of the area.

In the fall, the FFA/AG class harvested over 100 lbs. of lettuce that was supplied not just to the Vista High School cafeteria, but distributed across the district, providing students with the freshest of foods. What’s more, because it has been certified as a culinary garden, WaveCrest Cafe is able to purchase produce from the garden, which helps to support the costs involved, making it a sustainable project.

On the day the blender bikes visited, Vista HS, the agriculture classes sent pounds and pounds of fresh brussels sprouts to Alamosa Park Elementary for a lesson on reducing food waste. The Vista High School agriculture classes are making an impact not just at Vista High, but across the school district.

Students approached the smoothie samples with a mixture of expressions, from enthusiastic to anxious, but almost all gave positive reviews for the taste. On this day, WaveCrest served a recipe called the “Green Machine Smoothie.” It’s a mixture of apples, bananas, apple juice, and fresh greens from the school’s garden. Students were shown the recipe and saw just how easy it is to make.

The recipe for one batch is:
– 16 oz. fresh apple juice
– 1 apple (cored)
– 1 banana
– 1/2 cup of greens (spinach; kale; etc.)

The activity was borne out of communication with the school’s agriculture program. Vista High School has a fantastic program, and the school’s garden has seen tremendous growth this past year. It is certified as a culinary garden, which means that the food grown there can be sold to the district and served in the cafeteria.

In the fall the farm produced over 100 lbs. of lettuce that were sold to WaveCrest Cafe and served in the school’s cafeteria. The funds go back into the garden, building a model of sustainability for the program, and showing students how they are involved in creating a new aspect of the food system in the district’s schools.

At the end of the event on this day, the excess produce was shuttled to the district’s Central Kitchen to be incorporated into a variety of meals and ingredients, from homemade salsa to salads, sandwiches and more.

The smoothies garnered thumbs-up reviews across the board

The blender bikes are an in-demand part of WaveCrest Cafe’s nutrition education efforts, with future stops scheduled for Casita Center, Rancho Minerva Middle School, Breeze Hill Elementary, Roosevelt Middle School and Alamosa Park Elementary. For more information on the blender bikes or to have them visit your school, just email us here.

We’ll leave you with a variety of short video clips of students helming the blender bikes and creating their own smoothie mixes.