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New program wants input from schools to improve Farm to School programs

New program wants input from schools to improve Farm to School programs

Lori Martin and Monika Cox


By Sue Balcom, FARRMS

Via Tri-County News


Medina, N.D. – Does your school have a school garden? Does your food service use locally grown specialty crops like fresh vegetables and fruits for school lunches? We want to know.

FARRMS, a nonprofit in Medina has received a North Dakota Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant to promote connecting food to farmers through Farm to School programs. If you are successful in selling or buying locally grown produce in your community, your experiences can be a tool for new programs in the state.

Many food service personnel are timid about purchasing fresh produce from farmers. Farmers need to know what produce and what quantities schools can use for lunches. There is also a need for farmer and food service networking to better understand both sides of a farm to school program.

Examples of successful North Dakota schools and farmers will serve to answer the question “how can we do farm to school in our school?” The goal is to increase the amount of produce (fruits, vegetables, honey and herbs) purchased from local farmers. Farm to School programs can be as simple as celebrating Farm to School Week in September or National Farm to School Week in October.

A few benefits of Farm to School include:

  • Students learning more about farming and where food comes from
  • Farmers experiencing economic benefits through local sales
  • Fresher fruits and vegetables in school lunch programs
  • Communities working together

Coordinator Sue Balcom will be creating a document of best practices, collecting videos and surveying students this year with the focus on North Dakota schools. FARRMS is seeking schools to participate in this project by telling their stories, completing simple surveys and allowing students to participate in videos and photographs to be supplied to the National Farm to School organization’s web site at www.farmtoschool.org.

A database of farmers and schools interested in farm to school will be available on the new website (still under construction) at www.ndfarmtoschool.org.   The document of best practices will be printed and distributed in late 2013 or early 2014.

This book will also include a list of school gardens and tips on how North Dakota Schools began and use school gardens for education about farming and healthy lunches.

There are also opportunities to assist with this project as a member of the ND Farm to School steering committee. Please contact sbalcom@farrms.org or 701-527-5169 if you are interested in being a part of this exciting project in any capacity. The deadline was March 1, but if you’re interested, connect with Balcom anyway, as there may yet be a way to be involved.


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