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In March 2015, the National Farm to School Network launched Seed Change in Kentucky, Louisiana and Pennsylvania with the generous support of the Walmart Foundation. Through outreach, training and mini grants to fund projects on the ground, Seed Change brought more local food, more school gardens, and more food and farm education to students and communities across each state. This project was completed in August 2016.
Mini Grants: A total of 100 school sites received $5,000 mini grants to support the implementation of concrete farm to school activities and build school-wide support and enthusiasm for increased engagement and associated positive outcomes.
Demonstration Sites: Two model school districts with strong farm to school programming in Kentucky, Louisiana and Pennsylvania served as Demonstration Sites and training hubs for other school districts to visit and learn from. Mini grantees traveled to these sites for farm to school trainings and to meet and learn from their colleagues across the state.
State-Level Networking & Technical Assistance: National Farm to School Network partners in Kentucky, Louisiana and Pennsylvania conducted outreach and training activities, created information resources and developed strong networks of stakeholders to rapidly expand farm to school activities across each state.
Learn about the Seed Change mini grantees and demonstration sites by selecting a state and scrolling over the maps below. Downloadable versions of the maps are available here: Kentucky, Louisiana, Pennsylvania.
A total of 100 school sites received $5,000 mini grants to support the implementation of concrete farm to school activities and build school-wide support and enthusiasm for increased engagement and associated positive outcomes. Grantees’ farm to school activities included:
Building or improving school gardens, greenhouses, or other on-site school food production. 95 percent of the Seed Change mini grant projects engaged in garden/on-site food production and associated educational activities. Foods produced by schools often supplied school meal programs, tasting activities and in some cases, provided donations to community programs assisting low income or food insecure households.
Providing food, nutrition and agriculture education both in and out of the classroom. 50 percent of mini grant projects involved in-class educational activities, and 70 percent included out-of-classroom activities.
Hosting food tastings and cooking demonstrations. Grantees reported that these have had positive impacts on students by providing access to new healthy foods and teaching culinary skills.
Engaging the community with educational activities such as garden tours, special events and cooking demonstrations using locally produced foods or foods produced at the school.
Purchasing and utilizing local foods in meal programs, snacks and tasting activities.
Building farm to school capacity by convening local farm to school teams with representatives from both the school and the community, including teachers, school administrators, community partners, school administrative staff, students, parents and farmers.
Two model school districts with strong farm to school programming were selected in each state of Kentucky, Louisiana and Pennsylvania to serve as Demonstration Sites and training hubs for other school districts in the state to visit and learn from.
From September through December 2015, the Demonstration Sites held a total of 15 experiential tours and trainings, reaching all mini grantees. According to evaluation results, the Demonstration Site trainings directly expanded participants’ knowledge about various aspects of farm to school, including the following outcomes:
Inspired grantees to implement additional farm to school activities at their own sites, such as hydroponics, aquaponics, building greenhouses, raising animals, planting orchards, growing new types of produce, finding new vendors and collaborating with food service.
Increased grantees’ confidence in their ability to effectively undertake farm to school activities in their schools or districts.
Engaged community members such as farmers, local chefs, politicians and state agency partners.
Created a peer learning environment where experienced practitioners could share knowledge with those just starting out. Participants are incorporating new farm to school activities they learned about at the trainings in their own programs.
Provided a valuable, ongoing networking opportunity. Grantees remain in contact through Seed Change, and frequently share stories, successes, challenges and problem solve.
State-level partners are essential to building and maintaining strong state networks and for ensuring schools access to robust training and technical assistance. National Farm to School Network partners in Kentucky, Louisiana and Pennsylvania coordinated Seed Change at the state level, including outreach and training activities and networking of stakeholders and experts to support the expansion of farm to school across the state.
To learn more about the Seed Change initiative, contact National Farm to School Network staff:
Seed Change in Kentucky, Louisiana and Pennsylvania was made possible
by a generous grant
from the Walmart Foundation, which shares the National Farm to School Network’s commitment to
improving child and community health through innovative partnerships.