Taking action in Ohio for healthy kids. Photo credit: Joe Barbaree
I was recently invited to give a presentation at the 2nd annual Ohio Farm to School Conference. Conference organizers asked me to address the future of farm to school: where did we want to be in ten years?
By chance I’d asked a similar question of colleagues at Portland Public Schools a decade earlier. At the time, we were just starting to incorporate more local and regional products into the cafeteria and we thought a creative writing exercise would help us crystallize our goals and focus our work. Read more »
A family farm sits on small knoll in La Crosse, Wisconsin on April 25, 2008. There’s no better time than National Agriculture Day for all Americans to reflect on the contributions of American agriculture to the strength of our nation, and to say “Thank You” to farmers, ranchers and producers across the country.
As we mark National Agriculture Day, I want to give special recognition to our farmers, ranchers and producers for their spirit of innovation. Too often, Americans don’t take time to recognize the unique strength we have as a nation thanks to the innovation of American agriculture, and the willingness of our farmers, ranchers and producers to embrace new production methods.
We have a tremendously productive agriculture sector in the United States. In my lifetime, agriculture production has tripled. In 1950, a dairy cow produced about 5,300 pounds of milk each year; today, it’s 22,000 pounds per year. Read more »
Straight from the freezer to students’ lunch trays, schools are finding ways to serve local berries all year long. Photo credit: Deborah Kane
It’s February and, as tends to happen every year, I’m starting to run low on frozen berries. It seems the hours upon hours I spent this summer freezing the season’s bounty weren’t enough to satisfy my family’s endless demand for berry smoothies. Every year I vow to put more berries away for use in the winter. I suspect this summer will be no exception; I’ll take the pledge again. Read more »
Demand for local and regional foods is strong and growing, as consumers across the country are looking for healthy food options grown and raised in their own communities. USDA has long supported this effort along with the procurement of regional foods by schools and helping them increase food literacy among the nation’s children.
These efforts will be the topic of the “Showcasing Local Foods” session at USDA’s 2013 Agriculture Outlook Forum, February 21-22, where Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, director of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), will moderate a panel of speakers to discuss how local foods can lead to more nutritious diets. Lela Reichart with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture will discuss the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, which focuses on nutrition knowledge and related topics. USDA Food and Nutrition Service’s Deborah Kane will discuss the Farm to School Program that isbringing more locally sourced fresh fruits and vegetables into school cafeterias. Tom Coon, from Michigan State University, will discuss Cooperative Extension’s role in educational programs related to regional and local food systems. Read more »
South Dakota State Director Elsie Meeks presents funds to South Dakota State University Extension for an online Local Foods Center while attending the 2012 South Dakota Local Foods Conference. Pictured left to right, Dr. Rhoda Burrows and Chris Zdorovtsov, SDSU Extension; and State Director Meeks.
The second annual South Dakota Local Foods Conference was held recently to continue the dialogue on local foods among producers, consumers, farmer’s markets, retailers, schools and others. The conference provided attendees from across the state two days of breakout sessions, networking, and instruction.
USDA Rural Development State Director, Elsie Meeks attended the conference, taking the opportunity to award South Dakota State University (SDSU) Extension a Rural Business Opportunity Grant of $50,000. The Rural Development funds will be used to build capacity in South Dakota’s local food system through the establishment of an online Local Foods Center which will create structured connections between local growers and resource providers. Read more »
New Jersey Farm to School Network and Edible Jersey Magazine recently awarded their inaugural School Garden of the Year Award to three projects for innovative efforts to connect their school gardens to the cafeteria, curriculum, and community. How fitting that schools in the Garden State are host to a number of exemplary school gardens!
Students at Lawrenceville Elementary School in Lawrenceville, NJ cultivate their school garden from planting to harvest!
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