Maine's Farm and Fish to School programming is robust and growing! Schools throughout Maine are adding more local foods to their school meal programs; teachers, FoodCorps service members and community educators are building and tending school gardens; and agriculture and nutrition education initiatives are supported by a number of programs working with schools. The Maine Farm to School Network was created in 2011 by the Maine Farm to School Statewide Work Group to support the rapidly spreading farm to school movement in Maine. This network knits together a wide diversity of students, teachers, school nutritionists, parents, farmers and groups who support child nutrition and Maine agriculture. The Maine School Garden Network, originally formed in 2003 and revitalized in 2008, continues to grow with over 105 school gardens now registered with the directory. A coordinator was hired in 2013 to help provide more educational outreach to schools. Maine Agriculture in the Classroom offers a yearly grant program for agricultural education projects, including school gardens and farm to school programs, thanks to the funds from the specialty “Support Local Agriculture” license plate. A curriculum website for educators has also been developed; learn more at www.teachmefoodandfarms.org.
Key statewide partners involved with farm to school include, Eat Local Foods Coalition, FoodCorps Maine, Maine School Garden Network, Maine Ag in the Classroom, Maine School Nutrition Association, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, Maine Farmland Trust, State Dept. of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, State Dept. of Education Child Nutrition Services, State Dept. of Health and Human Services, Slow Money Maine, and University of Maine Cooperative Extension.
Some of our many local and regional organizations include: Healthy Maine Partnerships, Cultivating Community, St. Mary’s Nutrition Center, Focus on Agriculture in Rural Maine School (FARMS) and Downeast Farm to School. Many land trusts in Maine are also involved with gardening and agricultural programs for youth. Maine is home to the oldest seed-saving high school program of its kind in the nation, the Medomak Valley High School Heirloom Seed Project. A description of this project and many other Maine farms and agricultural resources related to farm to school are located at Unique Maine Farms.