What Is More Cool than Farm to School!
What could be a better location to talk about Farm to School than an urban farm using sustainable practices, designed in a way to create community – an event building, outdoor classroom, kids’ garden, farm stand and piglets?
On a warm and bright Wednesday afternoon, nearly 50 people from across the Sacramento region gathered in the Schoolhouse at Soil Born Farms to talk about Farm to School programs and policies. From food literacy and school gardens to school wellness policies and leveraging the America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital brand, participants learned about both the simplicities and the complexities of farm to school programs.
We learned that with all of the wonderful programs happening, there is still so much more to do. Only 14% of the general population participates in the local food movement. People are disconnected from the source of their food (farms) and what healthy eating means. Food deserts can result in malnutrition and obesity in the same communities. Amber Stott of the Food Literacy Center says that her volunteers, Food Geniuses, start working with students with something they know and love: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. From there, they gradually swap out ingredients: wheat bread instead of white bread, sunbutter instead of peanut butter (because of allergies), and fresh fruit slices instead of jelly. The kids love them and learn what these changes mean in the process. In fact, it blows their minds!
One of the take-aways: communication is key. So much good work is happening, there are so many impactful programs, but we need to tell the story. Nicole Rogers wants those stories to be shared through the America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital initiative, and we all need to both share and hear them. People want to be part of successful programs and initiatives; we need to give them that opportunity.
Following these informative talks and an engaging Q&A, participants moved outdoors to the beautiful patio area for farmer’s market food, wine from Grand Island Vineyards along the Sacramento River in the delta, and beer from Sacramento’s Device Brewing. Thank you!
Another big thank-you to Nicole Sturzenberger from the California Office of Farm to Fork, our keynote speaker for the afternoon. The seven lightning talk speakers are listed below with their name, organization, and topic of discussion for reference. Thank you – you all rocked it!
Amber Stott of the Food Literacy Center: education; Shannon Hardwick, Soil Born Farms: school gardens; Shawn Harrison, Soil Born Farms: career pathways in food and agriculture; Katherine Hawksworth, CA Project Lean: school wellness policies; Kristy Lyn Levings, Yolo County Dept. of Agriculture, AgStart: Working with farmers; Ben Thomas, Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF): Working with food distributors; Nicole Rogers, Sacramento Convention & Visitor’s Bureau: America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital.
Indeed – what is more cool than Farm to School?!
Robyn Krock is a Project Leader managing Valley Vision’s food and agriculture portfolio.