October is Farm to School Month

October is National Farm to School Month and we are off to an amazing start! Secretary Karen Ross of the California Department of Food and Agriculture signed a proclamation designating October as Farm to School Month in California last week. CDFA and the Office of Farm to Fork recognize the importance of farm to school programs in the state as a way to support California’s farmers, school children, and the economy.

Farm to School Month provides an opportunity to show all of the great work being done as well as how anyone – students, parents, nutrition professionals – can get involved and make changes to advance farm to school in their local communities. Join schools hosting farm to school activities, like Natomas Unified School District who will  take students out to visit a local farm or Oroville schools participating in local Crunch events, where students simultaneously bite into local apples to show their support for healthy, seasonal foods.

Farm to school enriches the connection communities have with healthy food, local producers, and nature by changing food purchasing and education practices at schools and preschools. The most recent USDA Farm to School Census reported that 55% of California schools participate in farm to school activities. This represents over 3.4 million California students, or approximately half of all K-12 students.There are numerous long-standing and emergent farm to school programs throughout the state and the California Farm to School Network aims to inspire, connect, and educate both old and new.  To learn more, check out the California Farm to School Network and the National Farm to School Network.

 

CFSN Finds a New Home: Transitioning the Network to CDFA

Written by: Nicole Sturzenberger, CDFA, Office of Farm to Fork

The California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Farm to Fork is excited to begin the transition of the California Farm to School Network to our office. As the new Network lead, we look forward to strengthening the already robust movement built by CAFF and all farm to school stakeholders throughout California. During and after this transition, we will continue partnerships with CAFF, leading procurement efforts, UEPI, leading early childhood education work, and Lifelab, leading school garden efforts. The Office was also selected as the 2017-2019 National Farm to School Network California Core Partner and looks forward to communicating national farm to school efforts. These new roles recognize the Office’s leadership in the farm to school efforts and will provide new opportunities for us to continue building capacity and support for farm to school and early childhood education (ECE) activities in California. Continue reading

Building Garden Support through Sprout Scouts

Written By: Mariah Marten-Ray, FoodCorps Service Member with One Cool Earth

Cross-posted from FoodCorps.org’s Field Reports

Students had just returned from summer vacation, and I welcomed my Sprout Scouts—the after school garden club—into the garden at Virginia Peterson Elementary School in Paso Robles, CA.  It was a hot and arid day. With every foot step dust and dry grass poofed into the air, and I felt like a kindred soul to the wilty leaves of the tomatoes and squashes.  Kids began racing into the garden at full speed as if it was a waterpark, their faces mystified by how much change their ½ acre garden had gone through over the summer.  Where my eyes saw chaotic overgrowth, their eyes saw a jungle to explore and a school year of gardening projects.

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Connecting the Garden, Cafeteria and Classroom…what’s next?

Written By: Allie Hoffman, Program Manager, Community Alliance with Family Farmers

Three weeks ago, 340 California Farm to School and Garden practitioners gathered in Modesto for three days of field trips, workshops, inspiring keynotes, networking and food.

Helen Dombalis sharing her Farm to School story during the opening keynote

Attendees represented all areas of farm to school, ranging from farmers, to food service professionals, garden educators, government employees, nonprofits and more. It’s hard to focus on any one single moment from the conference to highlight in this article, particularly because there were so many different workshops that one could have attended. So instead, I’m going to share a few of the highlights from my experience planning and attending the conference.

Leading up to the conference, I was fortunate enough to have the job of connecting with so many of you. Whether I was reviewing workshop proposals, connecting with partners on social media or coordinating with the amazing CFSN regional leads, it was such a pleasure to get to connect with farm to school innovators from all around the state. Continue reading

The Tiny, Mighty Greenhouse

Written By: Elise Chad, FoodCorps Service Member with Pittsburg Unified School District

What do you do when your school district is already rocking school gardens?

This was the conundrum I had when I first started as a FoodCorps Service Member at Pittsburg Unified School District last fall. PUSD has gardens at 11 of the 13 schools in the district thanks to a dedicated and passionate Garden Supervisor, Michelle DeCoy. She also gets the garden produce onto the school salad bars and holds monthly garden markets to engage with parents, staff, and students among many other tasks she accomplishes. PUSD’s Edible Garden Resource Center has a very ambitious program and I was happy to help where I could.

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