By Chelsey Simpson, Communications Manager
This young man takes his peas very seriously. Now his mom does, too.
Farm to school is all about discovery: Kids discover new fruits and vegetables, the magic hiding in tiny seeds and the wonderful things they can accomplish with their own two hands.
But kids aren’t the only ones learning new things. When children are introduced to new foods through farm to school practices, they bring those new experiences home, which can have a positive impact on the way families eat and the way communities relate to agriculture. Here are three stories about parents and teachers who made farm to school discoveries of their own.
This year we had garden camps for students K-12, which helped us make use of the school garden in the summer, when Alaska’s growing season is most intense. There were many lessons and activities around food and nutrition, how to garden, and cooking fresh produce, but my favorite part of the camp was discussing what kids eat with their parents. One mother was assuring me that her child never eats veggies, especially raw. At that moment her son was hiding in the pea patch, eating peas. When he came over, his pockets were stuffed with peas. She realized that not only will he eat fresh vegetables, he LOVES them, and they are as easy to offer for a snack as chips or candy.
– Danny Sparrell, Calypso Farm and Ecology Center in Ester, Alaska
A taste of home
I work in several schools in the Atlanta area teaching nutrition lessons and leading school garden maintenance. My first day in a particular second grade class, I brought in figs, thinking they would be something exciting that the kids had never seen before.
While they were working on an assignment, I quietly brought out the figs and sliced them in half so the kids could get the full effect, thinking I was about to hand them something that would blow their minds. One by one they came up and took a fig, then sat back down to eat it.
Many of the kids at that school are Hispanic, and a lot of them had spent time in Mexico. When I asked the class if they liked their figs and why, more than one said, “there are fruits like these in Mexico, but we don't call them 'fig.’” They had not had them at all since being in the U.S. They ate them quickly and asked for more!
So the fruit that I've heard American kids call “alien fruit” was a sweet taste of home for the students at this particular school.
– Sarah Dasher, FoodCorps member serving with Captain Planet Foundation in Atlanta, Georgia
Farmer or physics teacher?
One of the most vivid memories I have from my farm to school experience was when we went to Berggren Demonstration Farm in Springfield, Ore.
I watched as Farmer Angela passed around a basket of tomatoes and asked each student to take one. Then, she asked what was happening as the tomato was being broken down. She discussed the mechanics, how saliva powerfully dissolves food in our mouths. Next, she asked students to tell her what things are essential to our bodies, and she talked about vitamins and minerals. She even worked in a physics lesson, explaining that matter can never be created, nor destroyed.
On that trip, I realized that it wasn’t just the children who were excited by farm to school programs; farmers are excited, too!
– Karina Shea, intern for Willamette Farm and Food Coalition in Eugene, Oregon
Students who are involved with farm to school consume 0.99 - 1.3 more servings of fruits and vegetables throughout their day, both at school and at home. The fact that they bring their healthy habits home is one of the many reasons farm to school is a community health issue, not just an education issue. To learn more about the benefits of farm to school, download our benefits fact sheet.
These stories were shared with us during National Farm to School Month in October, a time to celebrate the efforts of school nutrition specialists, teachers, farmers, policymakers and concerned eaters like you who are building strong local economies and shaping the next generation of healthy eaters. Tomorrow is #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back, and we ask you to join us with a donation to the National Farm to School Network to support the growth of programs across the country connecting kids and schools with local food and food education.