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This Week in Farm to School: 10/31/17

NFSN Staff Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Every week, we share opportunities, action items and a selection of media stories that relate to the farm to school movement. To submit an item for consideration, send us an email. To be considered, content should be of national interest to the farm to school community. 

Grants & Funding

1. USDA FY 2018 Farm to School Grant RFA 
The USDA FY 2018 Farm to School Request for Applications (RFA) is now open. On an annual basis, USDA awards up to $5 million in competitive grants for training, supporting operations, planning, purchasing equipment, developing school gardens, developing partnerships, and implementing farm to school programs. Applications are due Dec. 8, 2017. Learn more here

2. Support available for USDA Farm to School Grant Applicants
The National Farm to School Network advocated for the establishment of the USDA Farm to School Grant Program and is committed to ensuring it reaches the communities that need this funding most. NFSN is available on a consultation basis to provide assistance to potential applicants in the areas of: planning and preparing the application; customized support for Native communities; evaluation; and, focus on early care and education / pre-K. The deadline to express interest in receiving assistance from the National Farm to School Network on a consultation basis is November 8, 2017. Learn more here


Events & Webinars
1. NFSN WEBINAR Trending Topics Webinar: Harvest of the Month 
Thursday, November 2 // 2-3pm ET
States across the country are developing Harvest of the Month programs including curriculum and resources to make it easier for schools, teachers, students and families to join in on farm to school fun. Though different from state to state, Harvest of the Month programs generally highlight a new seasonal product each month with activities, recipes, growing tips and many more resources designed to engage stakeholders and celebrate seasonal, local food. Join us for the National Farm to School Network’s November Trending Topics Webinar where we will hear from four different states about their Harvest of the Month journey. Learn about successful initiatives, best practices, and resources for developing or implementing Harvest of the Month in your school or even across your state. Register here.

2. North Carolina Food Council Gathering
Nov. 30 - Dec. 1 // Bermuda Run, NC
It’s time for another Statewide Food Council Gathering to celebrate the successes of the growing network of food councils across North Carolina!  Join us in building a network, strategy, and collective skills to improve our community’s food system. This event is being hosted in collaboration with the North Carolina Local Food Council and several local food councils across North Carolina. Register here
3. Beginning Farmer and Rancher Online Virtual Conference
December 4-7 
Join the National Farmers Union for their annual, nationally focused online conference: Growing for the Future. This FREE four-day online conference is focused on developing agricultural leaders from all backgrounds, and provides an opportunity for beginning farmers to acquire the skills they need to run a successful operation. Register here


Action Items
1. Call for Workshop & Poster Proposals - 9th Farm to Cafeteria Conference
The 9th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference is coming to Cincinnati, OH, April 25-27,2017! Hosted by the National Farm to School Network, this biennial event will convene more than 1,000 diverse stakeholders working to source local food for institutional cafeterias and foster a culture of food and agricultural literacy across America. Conference organizers are seeking workshop and poster proposals from individuals and organizations working to improve our food system, strengthen community health, empower youth, advance equity and increase opportunities for farmers. Learn more information about proposal submissions here. Proposals are due no later than 8pm ET on Nov. 14, 2017.


Resources & Research
1. Race and Food are Intertwined. Here’s How We Can Do Better.
“We spend as little as 6 to 12 percent of our disposable income on food. That is usually quoted as something that we should be very proud of. But it should be a national shame,” Ricardo Salvador (NFSN Advisor Board and senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists) said. “It’s as if the workers involved in the food industry and nature that is required to produce the food were costs to be minimized…We need to find a way in which we actually value all of those resources—the land and the people that are involved.” One of the long-simmering questions facing those striving for better food for all is how to go beyond voting with your fork? Is it possible to create a new food system that does not rely on exploitation? Read more here

2. University of Michigan 2017 Sustainable Food Systems Progress Report
The University of Michigan is in a unique position as a non-land-grant, tier-1 research institution with a strong and growing foundation in transdisciplinary sustainable food systems work. This report highlights the impacts from the collaboration of several different campus partners including: Research and Teaching (UM Sustainable Food Systems Initiative), Student Leadership (UM Sustainable Food Program), UM Campus Farm, and Dining and Operations. Read more

3. New Organic Management Resource Available from SARE
SARE’s new Organic Production topic room assists organic producers who are struggling to manage pests, fertility and tillage in compliance with stringent organic standards. Including a wide range of free materials developed by SARE, SARE grant recipients and experts in the field. 


Job Opportunities
1. Multiple Positions, NASDA
NASDA grows and enhances agriculture by forging partnerships and creating consensus to achieve sound policy outcomes between state departments of agriculture, the federal government, and stakeholders. The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture is seeking a Public Policy Coordinator and an Associate Director for Public Policy to be based in DC. 

2. Agriculture Specialist/ outreach Coordinator, NCAT Northeast Region
The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) is seeking an Agriculture Specialist/Outreach Coordinator who can create and distribute outreach communications for communities in the Northeast region.  The specialist will assist farmers in adopting sustainable agricultural practices to build healthier and more profitable farms and communities while helping to improve environmental conditions for all. Learn more here

3. Teaching Farm Manager, North Country School

North Country School and Camp Treetops seek a full-time Teaching Farm Manager to oversee a year-round farm program intended for both food production and education of middle school aged children. Learn more and apply


Farm to School in the News
Kentucky kids grow and prepare their own food
Barren County Schools celebrated National Farm to School Month today, with a Local Brunch for Lunch meal. "We had the kids make breakfast casseroles like I said, with the herbs and the peppers from the garden. We also used some leeks from the garden too, which was really neat because the kids had not had experience with that before." (WBKO)

Pennsylvania Family-Consumer Sciences Students Plant, Harvest, Cook Fresh Produce 
Students taking Family and Consumer Sciences classes at Radnor Middle School have a new source for ingredients in the meals they make in class, as a new garden outside the classroom has been providing them with produce they planted, harvested, and cooked with themselves. (Patch.com)

Why Indiana schools need gardens!

Growing food is as important a life skill as managing money, maintaining a car, or successfully interviewing for a job; and doing this, at school, through the act of tending a garden is a perfectly perfect way to teach sustainability and use one’s own place to allow rich learning experiences to occur. (Getting Smart)

New Jersey students learn about fresh food through Farm to School Month

How does food get into your lunchbox or onto your plate? Students in schools across the region are finding out through demonstrations and taste-tests with local chefs as part of National Farm to School Month. “I think it’s so quickly that we all forget what it takes to get food to the table or to the cafeteria,” said Laura Englemann, community health and wellness manager for AtlantiCare. (Press of Atlantic City)


Read 
past editions of This Week for more funding opportunities, webinars and events, jobs, and ways to take action to support farm to school growth across the country.

5 Tips for Celebrating Farm to School Month

NFSN Staff Friday, October 27, 2017


By Wendy Allen, Organic Valley

One of our favorite things about National Farm to School Month is October’s abundance of farm-fresh foods, many in a rainbow of colors that children don’t often associate with food. Apples in colors other than red; carrots in colors other than orange; white, yellow—even blue!—potatoes fresh from the soil. And nothing beats the flavor of vine-ripened, heirloom tomatoes in hues of red, orange, yellow and purple.
Schools that source local foods are providing an educational experience for our children that goes way beyond the classroom. Not only are the varied colors of unique, local foods beautiful, each color represents vital nutrients for growing bodies. Best of all, a rainbow-colored plate supports local farmers whose kids may be in your own child’s class. Schools that go one step further to source local and organic are also supporting a way of farming that reduces the use of chemicals on our food, our land and, therefore, in our children’s vulnerable bodies.

Here are a few more of our favorite ways you can participate in National Farm to School Month in your homes and communities!

Harvest the season’s bounty. Visit a local apple orchard or pumpkin patch and pick your own. Many children these days don’t connect that their food comes from the soil or animals rather than the store shelf. Teach them this valuable lesson with a fun and colorful fall experience! 

Know your farmer. Meet a farmer at the farmers market and learn the story behind your food. Ask them questions: Where is your farm? What’s your favorite part of your job? What can my family do to support you and other local farmers? Is your farmers market closed for the season? Look into fall and winter “community supported agriculture” (CSA) shares to get local foods nearly year-round. Find a CSA farm new you at www.localharvest.org.

Be a leader! If your local school doesn’t have a farm to school program, talk to the school administrators about starting one! You can use the National Farm to School Network’s excellent “Benefits of Farm to School” resource to help explain why farm to school is a win-win-win for kids, farmers and communities! In addition, many states have organizations that help install gardens, and schools can get free curriculum to connect science, nutrition, health and physical education classes with their gardens. Here’s a resource from Organic Valley’s home state of Wisconsin, which any state could use to get started:

  • The Got Dirt? Gardening Initiative provides a toolkit with step-by-step plans for starting a community, school or childcare garden. To bring the classroom to the garden, the program also created the Got Veggies? Garden Based Nutrition Curriculum, which is a free download. Download both toolkits here
  • For additional curricular resources, visit the National Farm to School Network resource library.
  • Know of other great resources? Share them with us on Facebook or Twitter!
Grow your own! Start small with a window herb garden, a manageable space in the backyard, or even vegetables that are suited for pots on the porch. A great kids’ activity! Volunteer to visit your local school to help students plant their own classroom herb garden. 

Cook together. Cooking can be a great learning experience. Encourage lots of colors for balanced nutrition, and talk about where the foods came from – does your child know that butter comes from cream, which is part of milk, which came from a cow? Talk about it while making your own butter!

National Farm to School Month is a great time to engage with your child’s classrooms and encourage teachers to work in food and farming education. It’s so important to help our children learn to appreciate where our food comes from and the hard work it takes to bring that food to our tables.

Organic Valley is a 2017 National Farm to School Month sponsor, and happy to support the National Farm to School Network in its efforts to support family farming and teach children about where our food comes from.

Farm to School Brings a Consistent Market to this Kansas Farm

NFSN Staff Thursday, October 26, 2017


By Molly Schintler, Communications Intern

Growing up in suburban Dallas, Jill Elmers felt far from farm country. Even as a young adult, she did not envision her life as a farmer. Jill began her career as an engineer, got burned out, and took time off to farm in 2000. Ever since her first season, she has had a little bit of land every year. Then in 2006, Jill saved up enough money to buy her own farmland. Today, she owns and operates Moon on the Meadow Farm in Lawrence, Kansas. 

Moon on the Meadow is a six-acre, certified organic farm growing a variety of produce including: fruits, veggies, herbs and flowers. In addition to Jill, up to six employees work at the farm, some seasonally and a few year round. Through the use of season extension techniques such a tunnels, Jill is able to produce all year for the farm’s retail and wholesale markets including: farmers markets, CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), and farm to school. 

This is the farm’s second year selling to local schools, and Jill says that this business relationship has given her farm a consistently reliable market. “The core items that they (schools) buy, they know how much they need every week, and so those sales are consistent.”  Last year, the farm sold cucumbers and cherry tomatoes to the Lawrence schools, and this year they have added romaine, cilantro, and winter salad mix. 

Jill is one of a number of U.S. farmers discovering the economic benefits of farm to school. Economic Impacts of Farm to School: Case Studies and Assessment Tools, a recent report from the National Farm to School Network and Colorado University, examines the economic impact of local purchasing and provides new insight into the potential for farm to school procurement to positively impact local economies. This report finds that not only were surveyed farmers satisfied or very satisfied with most aspects of farm to school sales, but farm to school farms purchase more inputs from the local economy, which results in positive local economic impact. Beyond the economics, farm to school has far-reaching and positive impacts for students, farmers, and communities

Jill is happy that farm to school has secured her a more reliable farm income; however, she was quick to explain that farm to school is about so much more than that. The team at Moon on the Meadow Farm is proud to supply healthy, organic food to the schools surrounding them. Since the farm is located eleven blocks from the center of Lawrence, the schools that this urban farm supplies actually surround it. Jill’s favorite farm to school moments are when students make the trip to the farm. Specifically, the Lawrence 7th grade health students who take a field trip in the fall and spring.  Jill explained that the students not only inspire her but all of her farm’s workers. It seems some type of poetic that the students inspire Jill and her team, because I am most certain that the farm inspires the students - maybe even a future farmer or two.

The National Farm to School Network thanks CoBank for their generous support of this blog and our 2017 National Farm to School Month celebrations!

This Week in Farm to School: 10/24/17

NFSN Staff Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Every week, we share opportunities, action items and a selection of media stories that relate to the farm to school movement. To submit an item for consideration, send us an email. To be considered, content should be of national interest to the farm to school community. 

Grants & Funding

1. USDA FY 2018 Farm to School Grant RFA 
The USDA FY 2018 Farm to School Request for Applications (RFA) is now open. On an annual basis, USDA awards up to $5 million in competitive grants for training, supporting operations, planning, purchasing equipment, developing school gardens, developing partnerships, and implementing farm to school programs. Applications are due Dec. 8, 2017. Learn more here

2. Support available for USDA Farm to School Grant Applicants
The National Farm to School Network advocated for the establishment of the USDA Farm to School Grant Program and is committed to ensuring it reaches the communities that need this funding most. NFSN is available on a consultation basis to provide assistance to potential applicants in the areas of: planning and preparing the application; customized support for Native communities; evaluation; and, focus on early care and education / pre-K. The deadline to express interest in receiving assistance from the National Farm to School Network on a consultation basis is November 8, 2017. Learn more here

3. KidsGardening 2018 Youth Garden Grants
The 2018 Youth Garden Grant is an award designed to support school and youth educational garden projects that enhance the quality of life for students and their communities. Any nonprofit organization, public or private school, or youth program in the United States planning a new garden program or expanding an established one that serves at least 15 youth between the ages of 3 and 18 is eligible to apply. Applications are due December 8, 2017. Learn more and apply

4. Whole Kids Foundation's School Garden Grant
Created in partnership with FoodCorps, the Garden Grant program provides a $2,000 monetary grant to support a new or existing edible garden at either a K-12 school, 501(c)(3) Non-profit working in partnership with a K-12 school, or 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The application period is open September 1, 2017 through October 31, 2017. Learn more here


Events & Webinars
1. October is National Farm to School Month!
National Farm to School month is here! The National Farm to School Network has free resources, planning materials, activity ideas and a new calendar of events for ways you can get involved in October. Visit farmtoschool.org/month to get involved. 

2. NFSN WEBINAR Trending Topics Webinar: Harvest of the Month 
Thursday, November 2 // 2-3pm ET
States across the country are developing Harvest of the Month programs including curriculum and resources to make it easier for schools, teachers, students and families to join in on farm to school fun. Though different from state to state, Harvest of the Month programs generally highlight a new seasonal product each month with activities, recipes, growing tips and many more resources designed to engage stakeholders and celebrate seasonal, local food. Join us for the National Farm to School Network’s November Trending Topics Webinar where we will hear from four different states about their Harvest of the Month journey. Learn about successful initiatives, best practices, and resources for developing or implementing Harvest of the Month in your school or even across your state. Register here.

3. 2017 Ohio Food Policy Summit
November 6 //  The Ohio State University 
The Ohio Food Policy Summit is an annual event geared toward collaboration and conversation. Any stakeholder involved in food system work in our state is encouraged to attend. Whether you are a member of your local Food Policy Council, involved in a farmers' market or farm-to-school food hub program, or a concerned consumer, this gathering is meant for you. Learn more and register here

4. Community Food Systems Conference
December 5-7 // Boston, Mass. 
Register today for the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project's 2017 Community Food Systems Conference, December 5-7 in Boston, MA! This conference will address common underlying themes between food security, social justice and sustainable agriculture including obstacles in urban and rural environments and fostering community empowerment to create and sustain resilient local food systems. Learn more and register here


Action Items
1. Call for Workshop & Poster Proposals - 9th Farm to Cafeteria Conference
The 9th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference is coming to Cincinnati, OH, April 25-27,2017! Hosted by the National Farm to School Network, this biennial event will convene more than 1,000 diverse stakeholders working to source local food for institutional cafeterias and foster a culture of food and agricultural literacy across America. Conference organizers are seeking workshop and poster proposals from individuals and organizations working to improve our food system, strengthen community health, empower youth, advance equity and increase opportunities for farmers. Learn more information about proposal submissions here. Proposals are due no later than 8pm ET on Nov. 14, 2017.

2. National Farm to School Month's Take Action Pledge
Celebrate National Farm to School Month by adding your name to the National Farm to School Network's Take Action Pledge! Sign the pledge and you’ll be entered to win our Farm to School Month sweepstakes! Ten winners will receive a prize package that includes: assets from the Captain Planet Foundation Project Learning Garden™ program, a Stand2Learn student standing desk, and a collection of seeds from High Mowing Organic Seeds. No action is too small – take the pledge now

3. 2018 Celebration of School Nutrition Heroes: Call for Nominations

Your help is needed in identifying the 2018 School Nutrition Heroes! Do you know an SNA member who goes above and beyond his/her/their responsibilities to make a difference in the community? We need you to tell us about this extraordinary person. The Celebration of School Nutrition Heroes will be held for the 5th year on Monday, March 5, 2018 during SNA’s Legislative Action Conference (LAC). We are looking for the five special SNA members who will be recognized at the Celebration. Nominate your School Nutrition Hero today.


Resources & Research
1. New Farm to School Recipes from the Chef Ann Foundation
Chef Ann Foundation has added 50 new, farm to school recipes and 6 one-week menu cycles to its wide range of tools and resources, including some of the first recipes and menu cycles that count towards the USDA meal patterns for Pre-K that went into effect this fall. The recipes can be scaled for any number of servings, and include the full cost analysis for a school or district’s size in addition to the cost per serving - making it easier to plan budgets while incorporating new recipes. Learn more here

2. Process evaluation of a farm-to-preschool program in New York City
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene piloted a farm-to-preschool program for low-income Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)-eligible children and their families at 9 childcare centers in New York City. The program made local produce available for purchase at the preschools, offered nutrition education to parents and childcare center staff, and offered children’s gardening activities in participating classrooms. Process evaluation strategies included tracking produce sales, redemption of produce coupons provided with nutrition education, and nutrition education workshop attendance, as well as cross-sectional surveys with parents and staff, childcare center directors, nutrition educators, and childcare center teachers. This article describes the program model, shares process evaluation data, and summarizes lessons learned from this program.

3. Michigan State University's 2017 Sustainable Food Systems Progress Report
The University of Michigan is in a unique position as a non-land-grant, tier-1 research institution with a strong and growing foundation in transdisciplinary sustainable food systems work. This report highlights the impacts from the collaboration of several different campus partners including: Research and Teaching (UM Sustainable Food Systems Initiative), Student Leadership (UM Sustainable Food Program), UM Campus Farm, and Dining and Operations. Read more


Job Opportunities
1. Marketing Specialist, FARMroots
FARMroots (the NYC Greenmarket’s technical assistance program)  is seeking to hire a Marketing Specialist. This position requires a nuanced understanding of agricultural marketing in the Northeast, including supply chains for various farm types and emerging marketing channels. Learn more and apply

2. Regional and Sustainable Food Systems Manager, Boston College Dining
Boston College seeks to fill the position of Regional and Sustainable Food Systems Manager. The position supports the implementation of Dining Services’ “Regional and Sustainable Roadmap and Action Plan”. Will research, consult, and assist procurement strategy for regional and sustainable sourcing with the Assistant Director of Auxiliary Services and BC Dining Services Management Team. Learn more and apply

3. Real Food Challenge hiring for multiple positions
Real Food Challenge is seeking to hire a Northeast Regional Coordinator as well as a Digital Strategy and Northeast Coordinator. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until November 20. Positions are based out of Boston, MA, though it may be possible to work remotely with occasional in-person meetings in the Boston area. 

4. FoodCorps hiring for multiple positions

FoodCorps is a fast-growing national nonprofit that provides a scalable response to the epidemics of childhood obesity and food insecurity, while training a new generation of leaders in the fields of food, health, education and sustainability. Read more about FoodCorps' job openings


Farm to School in the News
Students produce what is believed to be biggest sweet potato grown in South Carolina

School nurse Carolyn Hendrix said this is the first year Carlisle-Foster’s Grove Elementary had a school garden, created by a student club called the Green Team. Their goals did not include setting a state record, she said, but that is apparently the case with their sweet potato. It weighs 12 pounds, 45 ounces, which she likens to a “heavy baby.” (Charlotte Observer)

Locally sourced fruits, vegetables produce big results for Ohio district
Since becoming a Farm to School district, the amount of fresh produce being eaten has greatly increased, Nieset said. “We have also had many positive comments from parents who call and say things like ‘My child now says broccoli is their favorite vegetable,’ or, ‘I cannot believe my child is eating cherry tomatoes or cucumbers, when we were at the grocery they requested we buy them for at home.’” (Sandusky Register)

Olive Branch "Garden Party" in Mississippi

"My third-graders grow corn and peas and okra," said Willis. "We were hoping to expand our garden so the kids could expand the crops. We want to have enough where a class can grow an entire meal. One child talked about his grandmother who cooked food. We want that community involvement with kids and how they cook at home." (Desoto Times)

Hawaii asks, "Can school gardens get kids to eat their vegetables?" 
“When you grow your own carrot, you eat it top to bottom,” said Natalie McKinney, the executive director of Kokua Hawaii. “We want the kids to be contributors to a healthy food system, to be able to want to eat fresh fruits and vegetables.” (Civil Beat)

Read past editions of This Week for more funding opportunities, webinars and events, jobs, and ways to take action to support farm to school growth across the country.

Tower Garden Grows More Than Plants

NFSN Staff Monday, October 23, 2017
By Jesse Graytock, Program Manager, The NEA Foundation
Students walking by the window to Sabrina Sullivan Conner’s classroom were perplexed. The large white column that they saw didn’t seem to make any sense. Was it a birdhouse? A piece of a maintenance equipment? Some sort of elaborate game board?

It turns out that it was simply a way to bring farming not just to schools, but to have it in schools. At Strongsville Middle School in Strongsville, Ohio Mrs. Conner, an intervention specialist who works with students with moderate to intensive disabilities, used a $2,000 grant from the NEA Foundation to work with her students to build a tower garden in their classroom. The tower, which pumps water through a central base and then filters it up to twenty different vegetables and herbs, allowed students to grow crops year-round and served as an invaluable hands-on learning tool.

Students were responsible for building the tower, choosing and planting the vegetables and herbs, and maintaining the system, which included pruning, checking water levels, filling the tank, and harvesting. “We wanted to teach healthy living and vocational skills to individuals with autism, Down syndrome, and multiple disabilities,” said Mrs. Conner. “I want my students to have access to opportunities to build skills to help them eventually live independently.”

In addition to acting as a catalyst for experiential learning, the garden also led to a significant change in students’ eating habits. Once the province of chocolate and pretzels, snack periods morphed into sessions with tomatoes, spinach, and thyme. But this transition was not without some hiccups.

“At first they were very confused,” remembers Mrs. Conner. “Most of my students have autism and are very rigid with their diets. Some of them have never really tried fresh vegetables. Many have never given a thought to the growing process – they only knew that vegetables came from the store.”

As time passed, and as students began to realize the fruits (and veggies) of their labor, attitudes changed. One student developed a deep love for basil. Others enjoyed sliced cucumbers with a light dressing. Every week, a group of students would choose a recipe, make a list of ingredients, and cook a meal for each other. Their pride in the garden was palpable. 

After a few months of having the tower in the window, students in the general education population began to ask how they could get involved. Eventually more than 100 students signed up to volunteer to assist their special needs peers with planting and harvesting.

The success of the project can’t be measured simply by students’ new appreciation for vocational skills, healthy living, and life science (although that was clear). For Mrs. Conner, the deep impact comes in the form of watching her students embrace this type of hands-on learning and turn it into a self-directed odyssey. “I’ll catch them smelling the plants and trimming off dead leaves or overgrowth independently and unprompted,” she recalls.

“They inspire me every day.”

Sabrina Sullivan is an intervention specialist at Strongsville Middle School in Strongsville, Ohio. She and thousands of other educators throughout the country have received a grant from the NEA Foundation. To apply for a $2,000 or $5,000 grant for classroom projects or professional development endeavors, visit www.neafoundation.org

Seeds Farm Reaps Rewards with Farm to School

NFSN Staff Thursday, October 19, 2017


By Hannah McCandless, Network and Partnership Fellow 

With a mission to produce wholesome, quality food, Seeds Farm in Northfield, MN finds that farm to school initiatives are boosting their sales while bringing the community together. Becca Carlson, the founder of Seeds Farm, is extremely passionate about feeding her community farm fresh products and sees farm to school as a way to pursue this passion while preserving land for future farmers and bringing communities and families together.
Becca started Seeds Farm in 2010 with the motivation to connect more closely with her environment and to help her community eat in a more constructive, rather than destructive, way. Since then the small farm has blossomed. 

Since Seeds Farm began participating in farm to school initiatives, a number of things have changed and taken hold on the farm. On top of growing more food for schools and adding to the farms profit margin, Becca has found that schools are very understanding of potential mishaps on the farm, such as an early frost or a smaller yield than anticipated. Although the volume of food is not always large, the contracts have remained consistent. Often, contracts are set in the winter and delivered on in the fall, making schools a reliable market for small farms like Seeds Farm. Overall, Becca reports that the small increase in sales to schools has increased sales overall.

By becoming certified to sell to schools in Minnesota, Seeds Farm has been able to sell their products to schools and expand their wholesale contracts with other potential buyers. A number of contacts and potential contracts have been explored because of this new level of documentation, allowing for the farm to expand even further than before. 

As Becca looks back on her time participating in farm to school initiatives, she has some advice for farmers or food service directors on how they can get involved. For farmers, her greatest advice is to start early. There is some documentation to get squared away, a bidding process, and contracts to be decided on in the winter months for the following fall. Becca says, “It’s not hard or easy, it takes time, planning ahead, and forward thinking. Very achievable.” 

Concerning food service directors new to the movement, Becca says, “Farm to school is the whole package for kids,” and to remember that they are not only bringing healthy produce to students, but they are telling the story of where food comes from and the farmers who grew it. Helping kids view healthy, local food as fun and cool is the key to getting kids more involved. 

Like a number of farms across the country, Seeds Farm will continue to grow and thrive as they bring their communities together and provide healthy food, while growing their business and prospering as an organization. 

A new report from the National Farm to School Network and Colorado State University, Economic Impacts of Farm to School: Case Studies and Assessment Tools, offers additional insight into the potential for farm to school procurement to economically benefit farmers and the broader community. Using a survey and case study approach, this study aimed to fill this knowledge gap by documenting economic impacts of farm to school procurement and developing a standardized framework for farm to school impact analysis. 

Survey Findings
Most surveyed farmers started selling to schools after 2011 and all farmers planned to continue to sell to schools in the future. Farmers were most satisfied with delivery requirements, prices, reliable payments, delivery logistics, time commitment, and ease of communication. The biggest challenge identified by farmers was the volume of sales to schools. 

Case Studies
This economic analysis is unique in its rigor as it uses information from the farmer survey and information from previous studies (including the USDA Farm to School Census and the USDA ARMS data) to construct a model for farm to school economic impact. Unlike previous studies, this economic impact analysis takes into account reported farmer expenditures, direct to school and intermediary sales to schools (food hubs, processors, etc.) and opportunity costs of local sales. Researchers used this model to present farm to school case studies for Minneapolis Public Schools (MPLS) and the State of Georgia.


Case Study Findings
Farm to school farms purchase more inputs locally, keeping more money in the local economy: 
  • For every $100 spent, MPLS farm to school farms keep $82 in the region (vs. $70 for non-farm to school farms). 
  • For every $100 spent, Georgia farm to school farms keep $82 in the region (vs. $79 for non-farm to school farms). 
Without considering opportunity cost, for every additional dollar of final demand for farm to school farm products: 
  • An additional $0.93 is generated in related sectors in MPLS.
  • An additional $1.11 is generated in related sectors in Georgia.
Economic output multipliers and employment multipliers for farm to school farms from the case studies are larger than the more traditional fruit and vegetable production sector: 
  • Economic Output Multipliers – Minneapolis = 1.45, Georgia = 1.48
  • Employment Multipliers – Minneapolis = 1.96, Georgia = 3.35
This study offers a replicable survey tool and framework that stakeholders can use to implement their own farm to school economic impact assessments in their communities. While the two case studies in this study clearly demonstrate that farm to school farms purchase more inputs from the local economy per unit of output, which results in positive local economic impact, additional research and support is needed to better understand the benefits of farm to school and to reach more stakeholders with this information. This will fill an important gap in knowledge and open new opportunities for farm to school implementation and advocacy and build more opportunities for farmers like Becca to benefit from farm to school sales. 


The National Farm to School Network thanks CoBank for their generous support of this blog and our 2017 National Farm to School Month celebrations!

This Week in Farm to School: 10/17/17

NFSN Staff Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Every week, we share opportunities, action items and a selection of media stories that relate to the farm to school movement. To submit an item for consideration, send us an email. To be considered, content should be of national interest to the farm to school community. 

Grants & Funding

1. USDA FY 2018 Farm to School Grant RFA 
The USDA FY 2018 Farm to School Request for Applications (RFA) is now open. On an annual basis, USDA awards up to $5 million in competitive grants for training, supporting operations, planning, purchasing equipment, developing school gardens, developing partnerships, and implementing farm to school programs. Applications are due Dec. 8, 2017. More information about the grants is available here. The National Farm to School Network is available on a consultation basis to provide assistance to potential applicants in the areas of: planning and preparing the application, customized support for Native communities, evaluation, and focus on early care and education/pre-K. Learn more here

2. Local Foods, Local Places
Local Foods, Local Places supports locally led, community-driven efforts to protect air and water quality, preserve open space and farmland, boost economic opportunities for local farmers and businesses, improve access to healthy local food, and promote childhood wellness. Communities are invited to apply for a new round of planning assistance from Local Foods, Local Places. The application deadline is 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on October 25, 2017.

3. Whole Kids Foundation's School Garden Grant

Created in partnership with FoodCorps, the Garden Grant program provides a $2,000 monetary grant to support a new or existing edible garden at either a K-12 school, 501(c)(3) Non-profit working in partnership with a K-12 school, or 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The application period is open September 1, 2017 through October 31, 2017. Learn more here

Webinars & Events
1. October is National Farm to School Month!

National Farm to School month is here! The National Farm to School Network has free resources, planning materials, activity ideas and a new calendar of events for ways you can get involved in October. Visit farmtoschool.org/month to get involved. 

2. Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior (SNEB) Webinar: National Farm to School Month: Early Care Education Edition
October 17 // 12-1:15pm ET
October is National Farm to School Month, a time to celebrate the connections happening all over the country between children and local food. It is also a great time to learn more about farm to early care and education (ECE), a suite of activities and strategies that entails three core elements, including the use of local foods in meals and snacks, gardening opportunities, and food-based learning activities implemented in the ECE setting. Join speakers from the National Farm to School Network and Arizona State University to learn about opportunities to celebrate National Farm to School Month and to learn more about the vast array of benefits of farm to ECE for children, families and communities. This webinar is free and open to the public. Register here

3. Food Sovereignty Prize
October 17 // 12pm  ET
The Food Sovereignty Prize is awarded annually by the US Food Sovereignty Alliance. A U.S. and international winner will be celebrated during the ceremony. The US Food Sovereignty Alliance works to end poverty, rebuild local food economies, and assert democratic control over the food system. We believe all people have the right to healthy, culturally appropriate food, produced in an ecologically sound manner. Register here to virtually attend this event. 

4. Value-Added Producer Grant Program 

October 18 // 1:00pm ET
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) and US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Development team will present a webinar introducing producers to the Value Added Producer Grant Program (VAPG). The webinar will help family farmers and ranchers to determine if applying for the competitive grant program is the right fit for their operation. Register here


Action Items
1. Call for Workshop & Poster Proposals - 9th Farm to Cafeteria Conference

The 9th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference is coming to Cincinnati, OH, April 25-27,2017! Hosted by the National Farm to School Network, this biennial event will convene more than 1,000 diverse stakeholders working to source local food for institutional cafeterias and foster a culture of food and agricultural literacy across America. Conference organizers are seeking workshop and poster proposals from individuals and organizations working to improve our food system, strengthen community health, empower youth, advance equity and increase opportunities for farmers. Learn more information about proposal submissions here. Proposals are due no later than 8pm ET on Nov. 14, 2017.

2. National Farm to School Month's Take Action Pledge
Celebrate National Farm to School Month by adding your name to the National Farm to School Network's Take Action Pledge! Sign the pledge and you’ll be entered to win our Farm to School Month sweepstakes! Ten winners will receive a prize package that includes: assets from the Captain Planet Foundation Project Learning Garden™ program, a Stand2Learn student standing desk, and a collection of seeds from High Mowing Organic Seeds. No action is too small – take the pledge now! 

3. 2018 National Health Outreach Conference: Proposal Submission
Proposals are now being accepted for the 2018 National Health Outreach Conference (NHOC) May 2-4, 2018, at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Mall of America in Bloomington, MI. Read more here. Proposals must be submitted by October 30, 2017. 


Policy News
1. Local FARMS Act introduced to help farmers meet growing demand for local food

Representatives Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), and Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) have introduced HR 3941, the Local Food And Regional Market Supply Act (Local FARMS Act).  The Local FARMS Act builds on the success of local and regional food economies by helping farmers tap into growing markets and helping consumers access healthy food. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has introduced a companion bill in the Senate. Among other provisions, the legislation would provide schools more resources to purchase food locally. Learn more here

2. California Gov. Jerry Brown signs Farmer Equity Act
California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that would require California officials to focus on and address the challenges facing farmers of color in the state by making access to  state and federal resources more equitable. This comes at a critical moment as the current generation of farmers is retiring and new farmers are increasingly represented by people of color, including immigrants and refugees. The Farmer Equity Act, AB 1348 directs the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) to better provide resources, outreach, technical assistance, and decision-making power to “socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers,” so called because they have been subjected to historic racial discrimination. Read more here


Resources & Research
1. Planning for Equitable Urban and Regional Food Systems

How does and can planning and design enhance the freedom and wellbeing of marginalized actors in the food system – low-income residents, people of color, small-holder farmers, and refugees – the very people the alternative food movements purport to serve? The eleven articles and two publication reviews featured in this free issue of the journal Built Environment cover a range of topics such as the importance of addressing inclusion in planning and design processes, the potential benefits of urban agriculture, and the effects of rapid urbanization on food retail and food waste in the Global South. Read more

2. Unravelling the Food-Health Nexus: Addressing Practices, Political Economy, and Power Relations to Build Healthier Food Systems

A new report by international experts draws significant linkages between industrial food and farming practices and many of the “severest health conditions afflicting populations around the world,” from respiratory diseases to a range of cancers and systematic livelihood stresses. Read more here


Job Opportunities
1. Executive Director, Food Systems Leadership Fellowship

The Food System Leadership Fellowship has begun its search for the fellowship’s first Executive Director. The Executive Director will lead a bold new national fellowship program for some of the nation’s most effective leaders working at the intersection of food, agriculture, climate, public health, community development, and social justice working to create a more sustainable and equitable food system. Learn more here

2. Farm Business Specialist, The Intervale Center
The Intervale Center seeks a  Farm Business Specialist to join their team in Burlington, Vermont. For almost 30 years, the Intervale Center has led a community food revolution that sustains farms, land and people. The Farm Business Specialist delivers high quality, custom farm business planning services that enhance the viability of Vermont’s food system. Learn more and apply

3. Visiting Assistant Professor, Indiana University

The Department of Geography invites applicants for a Visiting Assistant Professor position in Critical Food Studies and Environmental Change to begin on January 1, 2018. The position is for one semester with the potential for renewal for the 2018-2019 academic year. Learn more and apply


Farm to School in the News
Our Community: Farm to Preschool in New York 

Check out this video featuring a Long Island based farm to preschool program funded through SNAP ED through the New York State Department of Health . This Farm to ECE program aims to increase access to local and fresh produce in underserved areas of Long Island while also providing nutrition lessons to preschool students. (FiOS 1 News)

Local Produce and Good Nutrition for South Dakota Students 
National Farm to School Month is upon us, and the Huron School District Nutritional Department is making great efforts as usual to educate and provide students with local, fresh produce. “What’s not to like about kids and local produce,” said Carol Tompkins, Food Service Director at the Huron School District, “It helps everybody, the local farmers and economy, and the kids like the locally grown produce.” (Huron Plainsman)

Arkansas Elementary School Students Grow Their Own Food

Governor Asa Hutchinson proclaimed October Arkansas Farm to School Month. It's a nationwide effort to connect schools with local farms and the goal is to provide children healthy meals in cafeterias while improving nutrition. (THV 11)

Read past editions of This Week for more funding opportunities, webinars and events, jobs, and ways to take action to support farm to school growth across the country.

Healthy Eating Starts Early: Growing Healthy Kids with CACFP and Farm to ECE

NFSN Staff Monday, October 16, 2017
Photo credit: Kelly Rood
By Alexia Thex, National CACFP Sponsors Association

Every single day, child care providers across the nation are growing healthy kids. These unsung heroes work tirelessly day in and day out caring for our children’s minds and bodies. The National CACFP Sponsors Association (NCA) believes that healthy eating starts early and considers it paramount to support these providers in building healthy habits. 

This month we are proud to be a Featured Partner for National Farm to School Month and support providers with tools to support their local farm to school initiatives. “The USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is an indicator of quality childcare and goes hand in hand with farm to school initiatives. “As the founder of Taking Root Tennessee, I have seen first-hand the difference it makes when we get children involved in growing their own food,” shared Senta Hester, NCA President and Founder of Taking Root Tennessee. “This is why we are honored to have the National Farm to School Network as one of our National Allies.”  

We love sharing our CACFP provider farm to early care and education (ECE) success stories.  Kelly Rood, a CACFP participant in Arlington, TX, knows that teaching nutrition isn’t always easy. Through her gardening efforts, she has created a learning environment that encourages teamwork and nurtures responsibility.  As they tend their summer and winter gardens, not only are the children learning about healthy foods, they are also growing their sense of pride.  Parents are excited to see their children trying new fruits and vegetables and the children are all smiles when they see their hard work result in a something ‘yummy.’ 

Joy Parks, a CACFP Home Child Care Provider in Charlotte, NC, gets her kids involved in the food preparation, such as snapping green beans, to make them feel part of the process. She often uses the herbs from their garden to make the ‘final touches’ on their meal. She incorporates learning about new foods in their daily lessons using food cards to teach kids about what they are eating.  “We love promoting the great work of our CACFP providers who are already implementing the 2017 New CACFP Meal Patterns which are the building blocks for teaching healthy eating habits. The new meal patterns focus on the increased consumption of vegetables by separating the fruit and vegetable components, and what better way to increase consumption of a variety of fruits and vegetable than to get the kids involved in the planning, growing, preparing and serving process,” Senta noted.  

As we celebrate National Farm to School Month, we encourage providers to TAKE ACTION by incorporating one or more farm to school activities into your child care program.  Check out the NEW! Child Nutrition Today section of our website. Here you will find kid-friendly, nutritious #cacfpcreditable recipes that incorporate items from your community gardens along with fun activity sheets to incorporate into your lesson plans. Happy Growing!  

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