Tuesday marked the beginning of National Farm to School month. It’s a great opportunity to celebrate local food and how it can benefit students, teachers and staff at our local schools. But the benefits don’t stop there — Farm to School helps out the local economy, too.
So what exactly is Farm to School? Farm to School is multifaceted. It links local farmers with institutions that buy their food, but also includes educational opportunities, like school gardens, farm field trips and cooking lessons. It looks at the whole picture of farms, education, and nutrition. Schools can utilize the concept of Farm to School in many ways. Some schools choose to procure local food through their institutional food distributor. Some schools might buy local food to do a harvest celebration lunch once or twice a year, featuring a “meet-the-farmer” educational event. Other schools might utilize school gardens to teach students about plant science and food production.
Nicholson Elementary is one of the schools in Montgomery County that integrates its school garden into curriculum. While the garden has been an installation at the garden for about a decade, the school received approval this year to use food grown in the garden in the school cafeteria. Students at Nicholson were able to choose garden-grown cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots and bell peppers during their lunches this fall. Community volunteers and Purdue Extension celebrated the Nicholson garden project this week with a Farm to School Supper after school.
How can more schools in Montgomery County get involved in Farm to School projects? Interested teachers and staff are encouraged to attend our 2nd Annual Local Food Summit. This year’s summit focuses on Farm to School opportunities. We will highlight projects going on in Montgomery County and help schools learn how they can implement Farm to School practices in their own buildings. Our keynote address will be given by Heather Tallman of Indiana Grown and the rest of the event will feature informative panel presentations about local farm to school projects and procurement opportunities. The event will take place 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Oct. 30 on the third floor of Fusion 54. A local foods “school” lunch will be served. Teachers at any of the three school districts in the county will receive five professional growth points for their attendance at the event. It is free to attend and open to the public, but we encourage you to make reservations by Oct. 16. Reservation details can be found at the following web address: forms.gle/TGRTFt9QZjMyLg8o6. If you have any questions about the event, don’t hesitate to contact the Montgomery County Extension Office at 765-364-6363.