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Food Justice in the South

NFSN Staff Friday, October 24, 2014

Guest post by Pam Kingfisher, Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group


Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group serves as the South Regional Lead Agency for the National Farm to School Network. Each of our regional lead agencies will be contributing blog posts during Farm to School Month. 



From the ancient tribal agricultural ways of Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, Choctaw, Natchez and others, the landscape of the South has always been rich in food systems, right along with the racial and economic disparities forced upon the region. The original farm workers were slaves laboring on rich plantations across the south. The tribes accepted runaway slaves into our communities, to grow food and families along with our people. This mutual and violent history has pushed both Native and African Americans from the land. Many of these same systems of racial and economic disparity have played a part in the destruction of small and family farmers and the continued abuse of farm labor and the ecosystem.

 

But, many people and organizations are promoting agricultural and food systems that protect our lands, people, animals and water in order to rebuild healthy communities.

 

Visiting New Orleans over the last few years has provided me with a unique view of “food justice” after Katrina wiped out most of their infrastructure. Community charter schools were some of the first buildings to re-open. The hurricane disaster created a clean slate for community members to establish systems a little differently. At Green Academy the lunchroom has a blue line around it where the high water mark was. This year they are painting over that line as they have healed from that time. The administration built in a kitchen classroom for the students along with “Edible Schoolyards” for outdoor classrooms and growing food. Three of the schools in this system have Edible Schoolyards, each with a unique point of view. At Arthur Ashe I visited with bunnies, chickens and goats, as well as students, throughout the schoolyard. At Langston Hughes they had recently celebrated a sweet potato festival after growing 300 pounds of them. They have a Garden Lab classroom with a full time horticulture teacher to guide these young producers.



Each of these schools were hard to approach – the streets are still a mess of potholes and patches of pavement – but the welcome received from the faculty and students can’t be beat. The students preparing for an Iron Chef contest were so enthusiastic, it was hard to leave before the contest happened! The schools don’t fence the gardens so that everyone feels free to gather food if they need it. There hasn’t been any vandalism at these schools either - the communities treasure these assets and take pride in what they have built.

 

That is food justice to me. When a community can rebuild their schools to include gardens and animals with outdoor classrooms to teach whole children in a whole system.

10,000 Foot View of a Region: What’s Next for the West?

NFSN Staff Thursday, October 23, 2014

Guest post by Stacey Sobell, Ecotrust
Ecotrust serves as the West Regional Lead Agency for the National Farm to School Network. Each of our regional lead agencies will be contributing blog posts during Farm to School Month. 


Farmers check out processing equipment while visiting Cloud Mountain Farm Center last fall on a mobile tour hosted by the Washington Department of Agriculture’s Farm to School program.  

The Western Region is full of pioneers, including in the world of farm to school. The region has been responsible for magnificent innovation: California birthed the National Farm to School Network; the Oregon legislature created a $1.2 million farm to school and school garden grant program; and from Alaska to Montana, Hawaii to Nevada, our region’s schools spend over $87 million on local food each year.

As the Western Regional Lead Agency for the National Farm to School Network, we at Ecotrust are lucky to work closely with many of the explorers who have charted this new course for farmers and schools in our region. This year, Ecotrust’s farm to school team is wrapping up a three year project working directly with school districts and farmers in Oregon’s Willamette Valley to increase purchases of local foods. The project, funded by Kaiser Permanente, was an opportunity to support creative new ideas to move the dial on farm to school, such as Boat to School and Legislators to the Lunchroom. It was also a unique opportunity for our team to build deeper relationships with school food service directors, farmers and distributors. At the end of our three years, we asked them: Having come this far, what do you need next?

What's next: How do we make farm to school "business as usual?"

This question also reflects a time of introspection for our team. Almost a decade into our work in farm to school, Ecotrust is looking forward to what’s on the horizon for our region. What will it take to make farm to school the new "business as usual" at every school, from Anchorage to Boise to Honolulu? We have a lot of resources in place—state leads who act as networking and resource hubs for each of the eight Western states (we even have a few state farm to preschool leads), state farm to school grant programs in Alaska and Oregon, vibrant statewide networks in Hawaii and California, and a rich partnership with our regional counterpart at the USDA, who makes much of this work possible through technical assistance and financial resources.

And yet, when we asked school districts and farmers in the Willamette Valley what they needed next, the answers were familiar. Small budgets, season limitations, a lack of scratch cooking in school kitchens, and the time-consuming nature of building the relationships vital to the work topped the list of challenges for schools and farmers alike. There are workarounds for each of these obstacles, and they certainly haven’t stopped many school districts and farmers from creating vibrant programs and partnerships. But these ongoing challenges are symptomatic of a more fundamental bottleneck that remains even as we continue to innovate: our region’s hard infrastructure—the kind that supports the aggregation, processing, and distribution of food—isn’t set up for local suppliers to feed local buyers. 

Lacking adequate facilities to process large amounts of fruit in state, Hawaiian pineapple is shipped off island to be sliced and chunked. Pineapple from South America and the Philippines is often found to be more affordable than fruit grown in the US. (Photo courtesy of Jakub Kapusnak, Foodie's Feed)  

No pineapples in Hawaii schools and other infrastructure roadblocks 

Pineapple in school lunches in Hawaii might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s not that simple. Dexter Kishida, School Food Service Supervisor at the Hawaii State Department of Education explains that most Hawaiian school kitchens don’t have capacity to deal with the whole fruit and that the state lacks local processing capacity at a scale to meet school district needs. The fruit must be shipped off island to be processed into slices and chunks and then sent back (with a resulting impact on cost and affordability for schools). And Dexter notes that this often means that pineapple from South America and the Philippines is more affordable than fruit grown in their own state. Mardi Solomon of Whatcom County Farm to School relates how students in Washington State are served "baby" shaved carrots from California rather than those grown locally, since school food service programs cannot afford to pay staff for the time it takes to cut whole carrots into sticks. These are just two examples of how the system through which schools, hospitals and college campuses buy their food in the West isn’t yet conducive to our vision of a resilient, regionally-based food system.

We’ve still made significant progress over the past ten years and there are exciting and innovative solutions on the horizon: In Hawaii, Dexter tells the story of a small grower who is setting up a flash freezing facility with the potential to serve the school district’s needs. The facility will process the second and third harvests of pineapples to help provide a product that is more affordable for schools. In Whatcom County, a new local vegetable processing facility at Cloud Mountain Farm Center is one effort to try to fill the infrastructure gap in Washington by processing local carrots and other veggies into the forms that schools need. 

It’s clear that school districts and farmers value each other and want to work together, and many of them know how to overcome common challenges to make these relationships work. Now it’s time to rebuild the infrastructure that underlies this work – to shift the entire system so that farm to school and local food procurement isn’t just feasible for those who are deeply committed. 

Focusing our collective attention on improving the methods through which buyers access local food—the aggregation, processing and distribution that make this procurement possible—is the challenge of the next decade, and has the potential to transform farm to school into the new business as usual. It’s a monumental task, but we’re pioneers, and we’re heading for that horizon.


Charting the Transformation of New Orleans Greenest Schools

NFSN Staff Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Guest post by Emily Olsen-Harbich, Center for Green Schools


The USGBC Louisiana Chapter supports sustainable school initiatives in the city. 

Sustainability professionals from around the world gather in New Orleans this week as the annual Greenbuild Conference and Expo kicks off on October 22nd. Industry leaders, scientific experts and passionate volunteers are here for three exhilarating days of uplifting speakers, showcases, LEED workshops and tours of green buildings in New Orleans. Perhaps most of all, this event offers a place for thousands to gather and renew their commitment to the green movement.

In the spirit of the week, the Center for Green Schools and the local USGBC Chapter in Louisiana will host several events celebrating the transformation of New Orleans schools into more sustainable and healthier places for students to learn and grow. The Center for Green Schools was established to drive exactly these types of initiatives, as we believe that everyone, from the kindergartner entering the classroom to the Ph.D. student performing research in a lab, should have the ability to learn in green buildings. The Center works directly with teachers, students, administrators, elected officials and communities to create programs, resources and partnerships that transform all schools into healthy learning environments.

Thanks to programming through the Edible Schoolyard initiative, volunteers from the Green Building Certification Institute and members of the Center team will get their hands dirty in one of the thriving Edible Schoolyard gardens in New Orleans. The volunteers will be working at John Dibert Community School at Wheatley, where children and families are learning how to best grow their own food. Students in schools around the city will also learn more about green building and the benefits of their own sustainable schools during visits from the Center team. 

One school the Center team will visit already knows all about sustainability. A recent winner of USGBC Louisiana’s “Green Schools Challenge”, Ben Franklin High School will host the New Orleans Green Schools Celebration during the Greenbuild Conference. By establishing a team of student leaders, known as the “Green Society Club,” the school has inspired a school-wide greening effort. Members of the Green Society and students from the A.P. Biology classes worked with an electrical engineer to conduct an energy audit then used the data to create a Lighting and Facilities Phasing Plan. Because of the students’ work, the administration has signed an agreement to buy Renewable Energy Certificates, committed to buying UV lights to reduce energy consumption, and made a plan to invest in solar panels in the fall. The Green Society was also instrumental in the planning of a Diversity Garden on the property. This space will provide an opportunity for outdoor learning and increase local biodiversity by providing habitat for pollinators and birds.

Celebrating Greenbuild in New Orleans this year will not only generate momentum around the green building movement as a whole, but will shine light on collaborative programs like the Louisiana Green Schools Challenge that are springing up all across the city. In an area not always associated with transformation and possibility, the Center for Green Schools is thrilled to acknowledge these thriving community movements towards a more sustainable future in New Orleans.


Growing the Next Generation of Food Lovers

NFSN Staff Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Guest post by Andrew Nowak, Director of Slow Food USA’s National School Garden Program    

A celebration of Farm to School Month would not be complete without children enjoying the fruits (and vegetables!) of their labor in school gardens.

Through the efforts of 150+ local Slow Food USA chapters and thousands of volunteers around the country, school children are getting hands-on experiences in more than just growing and harvesting food. They are learning about preparing, cooking and sharing the “good, clean and fair” bounty from their gardens. 

Our gardening and cooking classes are helping to equip a new generation of eaters with the skills and knowledge to make healthy food choices for greater success in the classroom and in life. Students learn about the role they play in the larger food system of their community and the impact that fresh food can have on the lives of their family and friends.

Information about Slow Food USA's National School Garden Program has been collected on a new website that features resources (everything from garden design through evaluation) as well as information about the many successful garden projects organized by Slow Food USA chapters across the country. Here are just a few of their success stories: 

In Temecula Valley, CA, Slow Food USA volunteers do cooking classes with students to prepare a cultural dish from the fresh produce. Through experiences like this, the students are learning how to handle fresh food so that they can feed themselves, while enjoying deliciously diverse foods with their friends. With these skills, a child does not need to be dependent on anyone else for a snack or even a simple meal, and starts to ask important questions about the “good” aspects of the food they are consuming.

In Long Island, NY, Slow Food East End supports school garden programs that supply school cafeterias with fresh produce for the lunchtime salad bar. These “Garden to Cafeteria” programs teach children how to grow and harvest “clean,” fresh food that is safe to use in school lunches. In some cases, the students participate in the procurement process by handling invoices and selling the fresh produce to the food service operation, which raises money to support their garden program. Students learn how to participate in the food supply chain and begin to understand the complexities of the large-scale food system. 

Students in Colorado, as part of Slow Food Denver’s “Seed-To-Table” program, use the garden produce to set up Youth Farmers Markets on school grounds.  Often situated in declared food deserts, these markets allow children to sell fresh fruits and vegetables to the surrounding community. The students handle all aspects of the markets, including promotion, harvesting, sales and cleanup.  Each week, they see some of the same people returning to the market for the fresh produce, and begin to appreciate the value that the community places on healthy food. 

Collaboration between Slow Food Charlotte (NC) and Friendship Gardens gives school gardens the opportunity to supply fresh produce to the local “Meals-on-Wheels” program.  Their fruits and vegetables are used in the daily preparation of healthy meals for homebound ill and low-income households. This teaches children about the issues of hunger and food justice in their local community, reinforcing the value of “fair” access to fresh food for all.

Every October, as we gather to celebrate Farm to School Month, it is encouraging to see the tremendous progress in the transformation of school food culture.  We are seeing great progress from the activities in school gardens and classrooms to include fresh, local food in the cafeterias – and, especially, to establish relationships between the local producers and the school community. 

At the heart of all of these programs is the involvement of the children as active participants in the food systems that bring nourishing food to their lunch trays and to their dinner plates at home.  Slow Food USA, our chapters, and thousands of dedicated volunteers believe that kids who know and value where food comes from will become the next generation of advocates for good, clean and fair food for all. And that it all starts in the school garden.

National Farm to School Month: a path to our future!

NFSN Staff Monday, October 20, 2014

Guest post by Melody Meyer, UNFI Foundation 

Growing up in Iowa in a much simpler era, we did not have one “food day." Farm fresh food was as much a part of our lives as the billowy clouds that rolled across the sky. My German grandparents cultivated a garden instead of grass for a backyard. Arbors of succulent concord grapes defined rows of string beans, tomatoes and sweet corn. My grandfather was in charge of the growing while my grandmother commanded the preserving, basting, baking and pickling! Pretty much everything we ate every day was farm to table! How else would one eat?

How else indeed: Let’s fast forward 50 years. After decades of corn and soy subsidies, many children think a meal sprouts magically from a box and that chickens have nuggets! We have edged so far away from our food supply that we have cultivated generations of eaters who simply don’t know where their food comes from.

In 2010, Congress designated October National Farm to School Month as a way to change that harrowing trend. This was promising recognition that Farm to School programs can improve the health and nutrition of our youth. These initiatives educate the next generation of mindful consumers. They connect our youth to days when fresh organic food was plucked from trees and pulled from the ground. It was washed, chopped, basted and baked. Farm to table becomes a delicious adventure into eating differently. It changes the relationship children have with the soil, the sun and the seasons. The natural environment becomes the playground, the classroom and the food pantry all in one!

The UNFI Foundation supports The National Farm to School Network (NFSN), which provides resources to implement and celebrate Farm to School Month and similar projects all year long. For example, the Toddle-Inn, Saco Maine preschool used a grant from UNFI and NFSN to give preschoolers a better understanding of where their food comes from. They planted a vegetable garden for the center and made field trips to local dairy farms and apple orchards.  The toddlers even got to experience making applesauce and then gobbled it with lunch!  

The New Foundations Charter High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is in an urban area greatly in need of nutrition programs. They used grant funds to take high school students to a local farm that holds a farmer’s market at another K-8 school. After learning about eating farm fresh, they collaborated with school staff on the Food Day celebrations in order to activate their peers.

One innovative twist took place at Daniel High School in South Carolina, where ninth-grade students embarked on a project that integrated English Common Core Standards with a garden, growing vegetables and culinary herbs. Gardening and farming were woven throughout the course through reading, listening to guest speakers, and investigating outside sources of information. This course culminated in the students conducting an oral history investigation of food and farming, and then organizing a guided garden tour that took place on Food Day!

National Farm to School Month lasts through all of October, and many activities will climax on Food Day, October 24th! The National Farm to School Network has resources and activities to promote Farm to School Month in schools, communities and media outlets including a new Communications Toolkit. The toolkit contains an explanation of this year’s Farm to School Month activities, a sample press release, and suggested social media posts. 

Let’s ensure that our children have the tools they need to make healthy food choices every day. Let’s provide resources so they create a future with healthy bodies and a connection to the natural world. Farm to school provides a legacy so that our youth can establish a future of environmental stewardship through nutritious, delicious and wholesome food. Won’t you please be part of that future? Support Farm to school projects! 

Beets Galore: The Full Circle of Farm to School

NFSN Staff Saturday, October 18, 2014

Guest post by Nicki Jimenez, FoodCorps Fellow


FoodCorps Fellow Nicki Jimenez. 

Last February, as a FoodCorps service member in Montana, I guided a healthy, local product all the way from the farm into classrooms on a large scale. It all started with a perfect storm of beets: local Montana growers had an abundance of them and I knew that they were a great vegetable to use for Valentine’s Day lessons with students.

As the FoodCorps service member at Mission Mountain Food Enterprise Center (MMFEC) in Ronan, Montana, I was in a unique position. MMEC is a fully inspected and certified community-based food processing center, so I was extremely well situated to carry out FoodCorps’ mission of connecting kids to real food.  They’re positioned between the Western Montana Growers Cooperative (WMGC) and some of the biggest and most committed K-12 buyers of local food in Montana. Not only do they have the equipment to process fresh fruits and vegetables, they have staff members who are knowledgeable and experienced in food safety and product development.

Over the winter, I leveraged our processing staff’s expertise to develop new beet products—different cuts, frozen raw cubes, and roasted cubes. In early February, I rallied orders for beets from eight school districts in WMGC’s distribution area. FoodCorps members in other districts bought boxes to use in the classroom or cafeteria. Nearby districts bought roasted beet cubes to serve as a cooked Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) snack. WMGC dropped off 775 pounds of local beets, MMFEC processed them, and WMGC distributed to the schools.

Five of the eight districts that received deliveries are small, rural communities with populations under 5,000; three have under 2,000. But thanks to enthusiastic large buyers like Jenny Montague, the Food Service Director in Kalispell, and bold small-district buyers like JB Capdeville, the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Coordinator in Polson, we fulfilled small orders. Without pooling orders to achieve volume, it is economically infeasible for WMGC  to distribute or MMFEC to process the local produce. Coordination is essential to creating access to healthy, local foods for small, rural schools in Montana.

Many times, my involvement with helping schools procure local product ended here: in the school kitchen. This time, though, I took a couple more steps to bring students a deeper experience with the local food in their classrooms. Working with champion teachers in each grade at the elementary school, I scheduled beet lessons with eleven classes. A local farmer—Nicole Jarvis of Ploughshare Farm—visited each class with me. Her four year-old daughter passed around beet seeds for students to examine as we discussed how beets grow. Nicole even led the fourth graders in some beet math, asking them to calculate how much space on her farm it took to grow the beets for their class—and their school!

Beets were a (potentially scary) new vegetable for most of the students, so we first made sure everyone understood the “don’t yuck my yum” principle and then promised a fun sticker to whoever tried at least two bites of beets. Every student raised his or her hand, holding a beet cube high into the air, and cha-cha-cha-ed, “we love remolacha!” (that’s “beet” in Spanish) then bit into the roasted purple vegetable. Pretty much everyone joined the Two Bite Club that day, and there were many rave reviews.

The farmer grew the beets. The farmer came to the classroom to eat the beets she grew with students. And I got to orchestrate all the steps in between. This is what it means to be a FoodCorps member at MMFEC: facilitating the full circle of farm to school.

Nicki was a FoodCorps service member in Ronan, MT for two year, and is now the FoodCorps fellow in Arizona.

How can CNR 2015 support farm to school?

NFSN Staff Friday, October 17, 2014


Carrots for Ventura Unified School District, grown at Join the Farm.

Amy Grossman, executive director of Join the Farm, is in the market for a new delivery van. 

"Just in time for Farm to School Month, [our farm] had our largest delivery ever to the school district in the first week of October, maxing out the capacity of our delivery van," she explains. 

Large orders weren't always the norm for the small farm, which is a project of The Abundant Table, a California nonprofit. Everything changed after their county's school district was awarded a USDA Farm to School Grant.

"Farm to school sales now represent a significant portion of our business model and enabled us to take on more acreage and deliveries," Amy says. "Our farmers take enormous pride in knowing their produce is regularly on the cafeteria plates of more than 5,000 children in our county."

The success of Join the Farm is just one story from among the 139 USDA Farm to School Grants awarded in the first two years of the program. In the coming months, the National Farm to School Network and our partners will be telling more stories like these. That’s because in less than a year, a federal piece of legislation that supports farm to school and other child nutrition programs is set to expire. About every five years, in a process known as the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, Congress reviews and updates these programs. The most recent version—the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010—expires September 30, 2015. 

The Child Nutrition Act reauthorization (or CNR for short) authorizes federal school meal and child nutrition programs including the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, and the WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, among others. The last CNR in 2010 was groundbreaking: For the first time, the legislation supported farm to school directly by providing $5 million in annual mandatory funding for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm to School Grant Program. A major victory for NFSN and farm to school champions across the country, this program funds competitive grants and technical assistance for farm to school activities that increase the use of and improve access to local foods in schools. 

The process to reauthorize the USDA Farm to School Grants and other child nutrition programs has already begun. The CNR conversations have already started in the two congressional committees overseeing the process: the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry and the House Education and Workforce Committee. The Senate Agriculture Committee held two CNR hearings this summer, including a hearing featuring Betti Wiggins, executive director in the Office of Food Services at Detroit Public Schools and advisory board member for NFSN. 

To prepare for the upcoming reauthorization, NFSN hosted nearly two-dozen CNR listening sessions over the last year-and-a-half to gather input from stakeholders. These listening sessions provided key input for the policies within CNR that would be most beneficial to the farm to school community. Here’s what we learned: 

In order to build on the USDA Farm to School Grant Program’s success, the next Child Nutrition Reauthorization must include increased funding for the program. Demand for the USDA Farm to School Grants outweighs the current available funding by more than 5 times. USDA received 718 applications in the first two years but was only able to fund 139. 

The scope of the program should be expanded beyond its current focus on K-12 schools to also include early care education settings. The first few years of life are formative years of life for developing healthy habits, and farm to preschool shows promising results for starting kids on the right path to lifelong wellbeing. 

The program’s scope should also be expanded for summer food service program sites and after school programs. 

The listening sessions provided ideas on how to improve farm to school in tribal communities, specifically including by connecting tribal communities with traditional, native foods grown and raised by tribal producers.

NFSN is partnering up with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition to call upon Congress to provide additional mandatory funding for the grant program, both to address the tremendous demand but also to support the proposed expanded scope. For more information, check out the NFSN webinar on CNR and join our network. Let’s make sure the 2015 CNR further supports and strengthens farm to school initiatives! 

Feeding and Teaching the Next Generation

NFSN Staff Thursday, October 16, 2014

Guest post by Wendy Allen, Organic Valley


Susan Hardy helps a PS41 student grind corn the old fashioned way. (Photo courtesy Organic Valley) 

We at Organic Valley have always believed that farm to school programs are vital to the health of our children as well as to our communities. Farm to school lets students learn creatively, physically, personally. It’s hands-on and fun, and these two qualities almost always guarantee a great learning experience for kids and adults. And it’s even better when the experiences also support local family farms and economies. Here are the stories of two schools (and two farmers) who are making a difference: 

The Harvest Challenge

Organic Valley is a cooperative of member-farms located all across the country, and many of the communities in which our farmers live also have farm to school programs. One program located near our headquarters in southwestern Wisconsin is Vernon County Farm to School. Even though this is a rural area, many of the students here had never seen, let alone grown, vegetables like garlic and eggplant. Vernon County Farm to School also organizes an after-school gardening opportunity, teaches nutrition education, runs a Harvest of the Month program, and—
the highlight of the year—hosts a Harvest Challenge.

Created as a fundraiser for Vernon County Farm to School, the Harvest Challenge matches teams of high school students with school staff mentors and local chef mentors. The teams and their mentors must create recipes that use local, seasonal foods; cost less than $1 per serving; and meet all school nutrition requirements. Oh, and of course the recipes have to taste good, too! If the recipes meet all the requirements, then they can be used in the Vernon County Schools’ lunch menus.

After the judging—which rates the recipes on presentation, use of local food, knowledge of school nutrition requirements, taste and aesthetics—the teams are then truly put to the test: They prepare their recipe for about 300 community members, who then vote on their favorites.

“We are really able to reach out to the high school students in our county with the Harvest Challenge,” says Ashlee Gabrielson, outreach coordinator for Vernon County Farm to School. “They are not only able to connect with a staff member but also a local chef who has volunteered to help their team out. This really connects our communities to our schools and gives them support. Also, students really learn an appreciation for their food service staff and how challenging and how much work it is to make these meals on a budget and at the quantity they make them.”

Susan Hardy and her husband, David, walk the pastures of their organic family farm in New York State. (Photo by David Nevala for Organic Valley) 

Farmers visit the big city

Many Organic Valley farmers enjoy visiting local schools to talk about organic farming with the students. David and Susan Hardy and Maureen Knapp, organic farmers in New York State, travel into New York City to visit Public School 41 (PS41) a couple times a year. Coming with them to the classroom are jars of organic cream that will be shaken into butter by little hands and sometimes the peeping of fluffy chicks, which the kids hold in their hands with wide-eyed wonder. These visits connect students to farm life and give them food and farm experiences they would never get otherwise. Our farmers may be too humble to brag, but these personal visits make such an impact on young minds. We are proud to brag on their behalf.


We believe family farming is the key to healthy food systems, healthy communities and healthy children. Not only are organic family farmers growing food for us, but they are being good stewards of the land by reducing their impact on it and passing on important knowledge to our children, who most certainly will be the next generation of responsible, conscious eaters, and who just might be the next generation of farmers to care for the land that feeds us all. 

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