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Serving: West

Farm-to-school workshops, projects planned in West

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Students at Mother Lode Regional Juvenile Detention Center plant seedlings.
From Los Angeles to rural Montana, efforts aimed at expanding students' access to fresh, local food.

Throughout the West, myriad efforts are underway to expand youngsters' access to fresh, locally grown food.

The University of California Cooperative Extension and its community partners have received nearly $500,000 from the state Department of Food and Agriculture to expand farm-to-school projects. 

The CDFA Office of Farm to Fork's 2021 California Farm to School Incubator Grant Program has awarded $8.496 million in grants to 60 farm-to-school projects throughout the state, including a pair of UC Cooperative Extension projects.

Farm-to-school programs are far from just a California thing, however. For instance, Montana schools' projects will be highlighted at the Montana Farm to School Summit in August.

Here is a rundown on just a few of the many projects and activities happening in the West, according to the UCCE and Montana Department of Agriculture, respectively.

Los Angeles

In Los Angeles County, the Urban and Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College received a $250,000 grant. Occidental College is partnering with Los Angeles Unified School District, Los Angeles County Office of Education, Adventist Health Glendale Foundation, Big Green, Enrich LA, Garden School Foundation, Los Angeles Food Policy Council, National Health Foundation, Sage Garden Project, Seeds to Plate, Sustainable Economic Enterprises of Los Angeles and UC Cooperative Extension in Los Angeles County.

The “Farm to Classroom: Sourcing Local for Farm to School Education Across Los Angeles” project will help farm-to-school educators purchase fresh produce from local farmers markets for in-class taste tests, garden lessons and recipe demonstrations. They will also offer teachers farm-to-classroom educational materials on food systems, farmers and agriculture, featured produce items and nutrition.

"We are thrilled and excited to be a partner on the project,” said Keith Nathaniel, UCCE director and 4-H youth development advisor in Los Angeles County. “Cooperative Extension in Los Angeles County is poised to provide quality educational materials that support the farm to school learning continuum for young people. Cooperative Extension will continue to build on its expertise to develop relevant impactful materials designed to engage learners to meet their educational outcomes." 

A “Los Angeles Harvest of the Month” calendar will be designed for Los Angeles Unified Food Services and be available to others in Los Angeles County to use. The calendar will feature local produce items that are highlighted in the educational materials and available to buy through a purchasing app.

Coordination between school food services and teachers will help Los Angeles Unified align their lessons and garden planting schedules with foods offered in the cafeteria.

The project team plans to launch a pilot of the program at select Title 1 schools, then analyze evaluation data from the pilot program and modify the program model as needed before sharing it with farm to school educators across LA County and offering an accompanying training.

The California Farm to School Incubator Grant Program focuses on supporting local and regional farm to school projects that promote nutrition education, sustainable food production and procurement, and high-quality student engagement through experiential learning.

Tuolumne County, Calif.

UC Cooperative Extension in the Central Sierra received $248,457 to work on the “Tuolumne Agricultural Connections Project” with Jamestown Elementary School District, Office of Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools, Mother Lode Regional Juvenile Detention Center, Tuolumne County Sheriff's Office and local farmers.

UC Cooperative Extension Central Sierra will work with the sheriff's office to expand an existing farm education center on land owned by the county detention center, to provide educational opportunities for public school students and juvenile detention center students. 

“We're really excited to offer more learning opportunities for young people in Tuolumne County,” said JoLynn Miller, director of UC Cooperative Extension in the Central Sierra. “At the farm, we will be able to teach students about growing food with hands-on activities and field trips and provide incarcerated residents with job training.” 

UCCE and the Sheriff's Office plan to start a sustainable egg-laying operation to supply public schools and other public institutions with locally produced eggs.

At the juvenile detention center, UCCE will provide monthly gardening and cooking lessons to juveniles. UCCE also will support school gardens through the School Garden Network and expand Harvest of the Month education and tastings to more public schools and to the juvenile detention center.

School food service directors will get help increasing procurement of California-grown foods for their menus to reinforce the Harvest of the Month education. Through Kids' Day at the Market events, they plan to introduce public school students to farmers markets as places to buy healthy foods.

Helena, Mont.

With the theme, "Digging Deeper," the Montana Farm to School Summit will take place Aug. 11-12 in Helena. 

Anyone interested in farm to school activities is encouraged to attend! Attendees will learn and share hwo Montana school programs are cultivating success through the core elements of farm to school--serving local foods, school gardens, nutrition, agriculture, and food education.

Workshops, field trips, and networking opportunities will provide inpsiration and skill building for all. The conference will feature national and Montana farm to school champions and Harvest of the Month successes and resources.

Click here to view the summit agenda and here to learn more about the keynote speaker, Mariah Gladstone, owner of Indigikitchen. 

Click here to visit the MT Farm to School Summit website.

Source: University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Montana Department of Agriculture, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset. 
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