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Yolo Marketplace2Today's blogpost is another great one from Kristy Levings, Project Director with Harvest Hub Yolo (our Sacramento Valley regional lead!). Read on to learn about their recent Marketplace Exchange event, another example of the matching/"dating" model that's so effective at bringing buyers and sellers of local food together. Here, it's applied to Farm to School - Enjoy!

In our Farm to School world, we inevitably hear from school food service that they don’t know where to find farmers. While at the same time we also hear from farmers that they don’t know how to connect with School Food Service buyers. Oy Vey! What are we to do with two groups who seem to want to find each other but can’t?

To us, that sounds like the perfect setup - a setup for a "date!"

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Ceanna_VangelderThis FoodCorps Service Member and California native, Ceanna Vangelder, is bringing farm to school with Oakland Unified School District this year. Read on to learn about the district-wide fresh produce markets and how the district is procuring and distributing local produce into nearby schools… and parking lots.

Every Tuesday, an order of specially chosen fresh produce arrives at East Oakland PRIDE (EOP) Elementary School, and every Wednesday, with the help of my market volunteers, we make a colorful spread of fruits, vegetables, and nuts to sell in the parking lot in front of the school. It’s not quite that simple, of course, but after 11 market weeks, the positive impact of the often-challenging job is more apparent and the sales are up.

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Noah_DonnellKilmer-2This story was written by returning FoodCorps service member Noah Donnell-Kilmer, who serves with Garden School Foundation in Los Angeles. Read on to understand the roller coaster ride of teaching and the stories that make the chaos of teaching in school gardens and cooking for kids all worthwhile in this work.

Cooking with elementary schoolers is always an exercise in relinquishing control of children. Yes, you have a set recipe and a vision of how said recipe should look, with proper ratios of ingredients, well chopped pieces, and a beautiful appearance. However, this is not what cooking class is about. You are more of a guide in a cooking class.

You can show them all the knife skills and impress upon them the importance of knife safety. You can show the proper amounts of each ingredient to add and teach them all about the nutritional values of fruits and vegetables. Yet, at the end of the day, cooking classes, much like garden classes, are spaces for experimentation and discovery. In cooking class, new tastes are tried, knives are used for the first time, bicycle blenders spin, the seed to table cycle is completed, and kitchen vocabularies expand with new descriptive terms.

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Monica_DrazbaFoodCorps service member Monica Drazba is serving with University of California Cooperative Extension in the Central Sierra. As a Bay Area transplant in El Dorado County, Monica has already experienced the true definition of "community" in gold country. Read on to learn about her service year so far and how El Dorado County makes farm to school happen.

At the beginning of September I moved to El Dorado as the county’s first FoodCorps service member.  “El Dorado?” I pondered when offered the position, “where is that again?” Like a true millennial I “Googled” it, and realized to my surprise that I knew the place. “It’s that region you drive through to get to South Lake Tahoe. That in-between place-- the foothills!”  Actually, by ‘knew the place’, I really meant that I peered out the back-seat window while my parents drove along Highway 50 on my childhood vacations.

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This week's guest post is by Aimee Retzler of Sierra Harvest (formerly Live Healthy Nevada County), a community organization in the Sierras that supports family farmers, child health, and other food systems programs in Nevada County. The organization also received a coveted USDA Farm to School Grant in 2014 to expand their farm to school program from 11 to 15 schools and establish a 2-acre educational farm, as well as ramp up nutrition education and connections with local farmers and chefs in the community. The story below is one example of that growing, inspiring work empowered by these grants.

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 6.16.12 PMTasting Week is a special time here in Nevada County. The weeklong event combines the creativity of chefs with the natural curiosity of children. Children are able to expand their experience of different foods and flavors with a focus on fresh, locally-grown food. Chefs from all over the county introduced students from twenty elementary schools to delicious, fresh preparations of local ingredients. Many of these local items came from a farmer the students know through Sierra Harvest’s Farm to School program.

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