Administrator Audrey Rowe visits the Young Women’s STEAM Academy at Balch Springs Middle School, where students established a school garden as part of their culinary arts program.
School gardens are gaining popularity across the country. In Texas, nearly 3,000 schools participate in farm to school activities. Some of these schools work with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension’s Learn, Grow, Eat, and Go program. Jeff Raska, a school garden specialist with the AgriLife Extension, works with numerous programs and offers practical advice to schools establishing a school garden. Here, he discusses the importance of a strong school garden committee.
By Jeff Raska, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Dallas County Texas
A school vegetable garden can be a wonderful outdoor classroom for studying natural science. Having worked with school gardens on and off for more than 25 years, I have seen many great school garden programs bloom, and then fade as time passes and school priorities change. For the last seven years, I’ve had the privilege of working with school gardens as a 4-H Club program assistant for Dallas County and have had the benefit of seeing a wide range of needs and challenges that schools face when trying to start a garden. However, the most successful programs have a few important things in place. Read more »
This green bean poster is part of the Harvest of the Month materials that City Schoolyard Garden developed for Charlottesville Public Schools.
In celebration of Virginia Farm to School Week, I recently visited Charlottesville Public Schools to learn about the district’s garden and Harvest of the Month efforts. Here’s a snapshot of what I observed that day.
We push a cart piled high with plates of green beans down the hallway stopping at each classroom. Noses press against the glass in the doors and teachers urge students to sit down, as the door cracks open to excited chatter. The green beans are passed off and we are on to the next classroom, getting to every class in just under 30 minutes. It’s only 9:30 in the morning on October 6 at Burnley-Moran Elementary School and the Harvest of the Month taste test is off to a great start! Read more »
Lunch at a Weld County School District 6 elementary school featuring local products: grass-finished beef, pinto beans, local certified organic apples and greenhouse tomatoes & cucumbers
A bin of acorn squash sits on a pallet at the Weld County School District 6 central kitchen, right next to a bin of yellow onions and a 1,000 pound tote of russet potatoes – all locally-grown. A walk through the facility is enough to convince anyone that Weld County School District 6 is committed to scratch-cooked, locally-grown food for its 22,000 students at 35 schools. In this rural Colorado school district, where over 40 languages are spoken at home and 66 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced price meals, fresh, tasty food is the norm – even down to the green chili, a southwestern favorite roasted in-house, using three varieties of local peppers.
About a quarter of the central kitchen is dedicated to processing fresh fruits and vegetables. Mushrooms are sliced, carrots are shredded and onions are diced. With funding from a USDA Farm to School Grant in 2013, this food hub portion of the kitchen was furnished with tables, wash stations and equipment to process local food for Weld County’s own meals and for other districts in the area. Read more »
Deputy Under Secretary Katie Wilson speaks with Denver Green School students about their locally-sourced lunch during Colorado Proud School Meal Day.
From locally-raised yak burgers to school garden-grown zucchini, Colorado schools kicked off the school year with farm to school gusto! On September 14, an estimated 550 schools reaching 160,700 students celebrated Colorado Proud School Meal Day by featuring fresh, locally-grown food in their school meals. The annual event is organized by Colorado Proud, a program to promote local foods through the Colorado Department of Agriculture.
Students from the public Denver Green School celebrated with special guests including Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Deputy Under Secretary Katie Wilson and Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock. Guests joined students for a delicious school lunch featuring homegrown zucchini, onions, cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes. Students voiced their excitement for the fresh food, and guests headed outside to the school farm where the produce was grown. Read more »
Materials from state agencies are displayed at the annual USDA Farm to School Grantee gathering.
From organizing statewide conferences, to training farmers and child nutrition professionals, to developing farm to school curricula and resources, state agencies are playing a big role in bringing the farm to school. This fact sheet describes effective strategies state agencies are using to help community food systems take root. Here’s a sampling of three ways state agencies are making an impact. Read more »
The local foods offered through farm to school programs help school meal programs fulfill the updated nutrition standards with appealing and diverse offerings.
It’s National Farm to School Month and USDA’s Office of Community Food Systems is here to help…and not just in October! All year long, we offer research, grants, training and technical assistance to help connect child nutrition programs with local foods. Here’s why.
Farm to school helps form healthy habits. By incorporating local foods, farm to school programs help school meal programs fulfill the updated nutrition standards with appealing and diverse offerings. And the results are impressive. The recent 2015 USDA Farm to School Census shows farm to school programs now exist in every state in the nation and in every type of school district – large and small, rural and urban alike. With that in mind, we plan to build on this momentum! Read more »