2018-19 Northeast Farm to School Institute Photo Recap
Nearly 100 educators, school nutrition staff, administrators, farmers, and regional Farm to School organizations recently gathered at the Farm to kick off the 8th annual Farm to School Institute, the cornerstone professional development program of our partnership project with NOFA-VT, Vermont FEED. The year-long Institute starts with a three-day intensive focused on building deep connections between classrooms, cafeterias, and communities. Twelve school teams from seven Northeast states built Action Plans to create and strengthen whole-school, Farm to School programs in their community. Those Action Plans will be implemented throughout the upcoming academic year with the support of an experienced coach, integrating best Farm to School practices with the school community.
Twelve schools were selected following a competitive application process:
- Rombout Middle School, Beacon, NY
- Bennington County Head Start, Bennington, VT
- Captain Albert Stevens School, Belfast, ME
- Codman Academy Charter Public School, Dorchester, MA
- Groton Public Schools, Groton, CT
- Hamburg Central School District, Hamburg, NY
- Kenneth A. Brett School, Tamworth, NH
- Lamoille North Modified Unified Union School District, Hyde Park, VT
- Mt Pleasant High School, Providence, RI
- Peoples Academy & Morristown Elementary School, Morristown, VT
- Schoharie Central School, Schoharie, NY
- Sidney Central School District, Sidney, NY
Here is their Farm to School journey in photos:
Preceding the retreat, Farm to School leaders looking to develop whole-school, Farm to School professional development programs in their own regions gathered to learn from their peers. We visited Pine Island Community Farm in Colchester (left) and a summer meals site at Camp Hochelaga in South Hero (right).
VT-FEED’s Abbie Nelson and Julie Raway of Broome Tioga BOCES Food Services glean at Pomykala Farm in Grand Isle. Healthy Roots Collaborative shared how they work with local farms to harvest leftover produce and get it to food insecure children and families.
DAY ONE: The Institute kicks off! Teams participate in “Micro Labs”: guided conversations about the big questions of Farm to School, such as “What factors affect the ability of your students to access healthy and local foods?” and “How can your work with Farm to School support your most vulnerable students?”
DAY ONE: Participants continued with “Community Corral,” in which everyone is assigned players in the complex web of Farm to School. As the activity progresses, the group is able to brainstorm ways in which various school and community partners can play a role and who may be missing from their teams.
DAY ONE: Workshops cover different topics, including how to make connections between school science curricula and Farm to School, the value of school lunch beyond a healthy meal, and how to define and communicate your Farm to School core message to diverse audiences (left, with Burlington School District’s Family Outreach Coordinator, Ali Dieng). Teams had time to work as a group and begin their Action Plan process (right).
DAY ONE: Vermont Secretary of Agriculture Anson Tebbets and staff from Sen. Bernie Sanders’, Sen. Patrick Leahy’s, and Rep. Peter Welch’s offices speak to the group about the importance of the work catalyzed by the Institute (left, pictured: Sec. Anson Tebbets, VT FEED’s Betsy Rosenbluth and Abbie Nelson, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets’ Ali Zipparo, and Mieka Sanderson, USDA’s Office of Community Food Systems Grants Manager). Burlington School Food Project’s Fork in the Road Food Truck, a culinary job training program successfully integrating classroom learning, community involvement, and real-life work experience for teenage students, serves up an incredible dinner for everyone (right).
DAY TWO: Workshops included Steve Marinelli (left) and Keely Agan, school nutrition staff at Milton Town School District, who led a conversation about connecting with your community. At Milton, community dinners draw 400 local residents, and they work closely with the Milton Youth Coalition and their local farmers’ market. Poughkeepsie Farm Project’s Jamie Levato worked with teams to explore new ways to address nutrition education, including the use of bike-powered smoothies (right).
DAY TWO: Team time continues with Action Planning on the Coach Barn lawn.
DAY TWO: “Learning Journeys” are a highlight of every Farm to School Institute, where participants experience what a field trip with their students could be like. Choices included: the seed to bread story with a visit to the bakery, a visit to the Dairy, recipe-testing at the Inn Kitchen, exploring the Children’s Farmyard, fermentation education, and mindfulness training. Here, participants create food-centered, collaborative artwork with local artist and activist Bonnie Acker.
DAY TWO: Learning Journeys continued with a tour of the Farms’ 7-acre organic production garden, where teams heard from Libby Weiland of the Vermont Community Garden Network and Market Garden Manager Josh Carter about how to incorporate educational programming into a garden space.
DAY TWO: Day two concluded with remarks from USDA staff and a locally sourced meal donated by the Farmhouse Group.
DAY THREE: “Curbside Consulting” kicked off the agenda where participants met with experts about specific questions or challenges. Here, Danielle Fleury, USDA Northeast Regional Farm to School Lead, talks with a group about local procurement.
DAY THREE: “Kitchen Table Conversations” are used to gather feedback across teams and disciplines. Each team presented an element of their Action Plan and received valuable insight, advice, and resources from their peers.
DAY THREE: Over eight years, Vermont FEED’s Farm to School Institute has supported programs at 74 schools and districts, reaching over 54,000 students. We’re excited to see the innovative, inspiring work that the 2018-19 cohort will realize at their schools — congratulations! Group photo by Richard Howard.