Montpelier, Vt – On Thursday, January 29th, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets, in partnership with the Vermont Farm to School Network, announced the recipients of the 2015 Farm to School grants at a special ceremony at the Statehouse cafeteria.
The Vermont Farm to School Grant Program, now in its ninth year, works to improve nutrition among Vermont’s children by connecting food producers to their local schools, as well as providing enriched educational experiences and curricula. Farm to School grant funding allocated by the Vermont legislature enables Vermont schools to engage students in their local food system by incorporating local food and farm education in their cafeterias, classrooms and communities. This program has currently reached 101 schools, impacting 27,000 Vermont students.
One teacher praised Farm to School curriculum saying, “How do I engage ALL students in a way that is meaningful and productive? Educators are always looking for ‘the topic’ that will spark a student’s interest, ‘the topic’ that will engage the student in reading, writing, math, social studies, science, art, music, PE and other disciplines. I've found that Farm to School education, along with overall health and wellness education, is THE topic.”
This year, grants were awarded to ten Vermont schools, including five implementation grants and five planning grants. Student representatives from schools that previously received grants also attended the event to demonstrate how awarded grant monies were used to bring more local foods into their cafeterias, and to share success stories and lessons learned. Keshav Pokhrel, a Burlington High School Sophomore, expressed his love of cooking, shared a couple humorous culinary stories from childhood, and described his experience with Farm To School. After long-time involvement in Farm to School gardening programs, Keshav is excited to start his own community garden plot this coming spring.
Several schools have also started composting projects using Farm to School funding. Students from the Charlotte Central School and Milton School presented the composting systems they've implement and the amount of waste they've redirected from landfills. As one student from Charlotte Central School said, "We're like microorganism farmers, taking care of their needs (the microorganisms in compost), while they take care of our garden's needs."
Agency of Agriculture Secretary, Chuck Ross, and Deputy Secretary, Jolinda LaClair, also spoke at the event, along with State Representative Mitzi Johnson who introduced the first Farm to School bill in the statehouse. Commenting on the progress Farm to School has made since the bill was passed in 2006, Representative Johnson said, "It's really exciting to see the (Farm to School) work ripple throughout communities, foster curriculum about ecological cycles, and improve access to healthy food in low income communities."
The Vermont Farm to School grant program is administered through the Vermont Agency of Agriculture with technical assistance support from our partnership with VT FEED (Food Education Every Day), Green Mountain Farm to School, and Food Connects. Planning and Implementation grant applications are submitted by Vermont schools each fall, and awards are granted in January.
2015 Farm to School Grant Recipients are:
Franklin Central School
Brewster-Pierce Memorial School
Chelsea Public School
Washington South Supervisory Union
For more information about this event or Farm to School Programming visit http://agriculture.vermont.gov/producer_partner_resources/market_access_development/farm_school or contact Ali Zipparo by phone at 802-505-1822, or by email at Alexandra.Zipparo@state.vt.us.
About the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets: VAAFM facilitates, supports and encourages the growth and viability of agriculture in Vermont while protecting the working landscape, human health, animal health, plant health, consumers and the environment. www.Agriculture.Vermont.Gov