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Tuesday, June 12, 2018


Can we get a collective WOOT WOOT for everyone involved in educating our students and feeding them well? How about another WOOT WOOT for all of the farmers and farmworkers involved in making sure we have foods that nourish our minds and bodies?

Enjoy all that Minnesota has to offer this summer. We challenge you to find a new farmers market or pick-your-own-farm to explore. Check out the Minnesota Farmers Market Association or Minnesota Grown directories. And finally, we invite you to take a few minutes to enjoy what this issue has to offer and forward it to someone who may be interested.

All our best,
Minnesota’s Farm to School Leadership Team

Farm to Summer: Summer Meals Programs Get Under Way

Contributed by Sami Burington, Minnesota Department of Education

Students and staff at Nay Ah Shing schools in front of their gardens
Summer is a time of agricultural abundance! Almost half of Minnesota sponsors offering USDA’s Summer Meals Programs are capitalizing on the many opportunities that summer brings to serve fresh, local foods and hands-on activities that help children develop healthy habits.

Students at the Nay Ah Shing schools on the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe reservation start their seeds for their garden indoors during the school year. All students (early education through high school) are involved in the planting process. The plants are then transplanted into the schoolyard garden just before the end of the school year.

Summer camp programming includes a gardening class where students learn how to tend to their garden–weeding and watering all summer long. During the course of the summer, produce is used from the gardens in the summer feeding program as well as the salad bar once school begins in the fall. This summer the garden is expanding so there will be even more of a bounty!

Check out this USDA resource on summer meals programs: Farm to Summer: Why Summer Meals Programs are Ripe for Local Foods and Agriculture-Based Activities

October Is National Farm to School Month

Contributed by Farm to School Leadership Team

Students and staff from Farnsworth Elementary School in St. Paul hosted Crunch, the Timberwolves mascot for the Great Lakes Great Apple Crunch in 2017.
Students and staff from Farnsworth Elementary School in St. Paul hosted Crunch, the Timberwolves mascot for the Great Lakes Great Apple Crunch in 2017.

October is National Farm to School Month—a time to celebrate the connections happening all over the country between children and local food. From taste tests in the cafeteria, nutrition education activities in the classroom, farm visits and school garden harvest parties, we invite schools, early care and education sites, farms, communities and organizations to join in the celebrations.

In Minnesota, there are two statewide events currently planned.

On October 4, join schools across the state in kicking off the 2018-19 school year with Minnesota Thursdays. Since 2014, Minneapolis Public Schools has served an entirely locally-sourced meal on one Thursday every month at all their schools.

On October 11, students of all ages, from preschool to college, along with individuals across the Great Lakes Region states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio, will celebrate the fifth annual Great Lakes Great Apple Crunch by crunching into locally grown apples at noon local time.

In 2017, over 1.5 million people joined in the celebration, including 244,002 apple crunchers in Minnesota from 619 schools and organizations.To register for these events and to learn more about Farm to School Month, go to

MDA Will Start Accepting Applications for AGRI Value Added Grants in July

Contributed by Julie LaClair, Minnesota Department of Agriculture

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is preparing to issue another round of Agricultural Growth, Research, and Innovation (AGRI) Value Added Grants. Grants are intended to help agricultural producers and processors increase sales of their products by expanding markets. The grants are for equipment purchases or physical improvements. Projects that improve a business’s ability to sell to schools will receive priority in the evaluation process.

MDA will start accepting applications for the next round of grants in July, with applications due in September. Up to $1 million will be available, with a minimum award of $1,000 and a maximum of $200,000; 25 percent of expenses may be covered by grant funding.

Many value-added businesses have used these grants to increase the marketability of their products to schools. Here are some examples of previously funded projects with a farm-to-school component:
  • Brandt Gardens and Greenhouse, LLC purchased a walk-in cooler and freezer, as well as a scale, to increase food safety and ability to sell to nearby schools.
  • Bongards Creameries was awarded funding to construct a refrigerated warehouse to increase cheese production for the USDA Foods Program.
  • Mixmi Brands, Inc. received funding to purchase and install equipment and refrigeration to increase their capacity to serve “smart snacks” that meet USDA nutrition standards to their school and retail markets.
Please share information about this grant program with your Farm to School partners. To learn more about the program, visit the AGRI Value Added Grant web page. The page will be updated as more details are available.

Minnesota Well Represented at the National Farm to Cafeteria Conference

Contributed by Stephanie Heim, University of Minnesota Extension
Workshop presenters from Minnesota, Grace Brogan, Carrie Frank, Ashley Bress and Kate Seybold (pictured L to R) pose for a photo with veggies at the 2018 National Farm to Cafeteria Conference.
Workshop presenters from Minnesota, Grace Brogan, Carrie Frank, Ashley Bress and Kate Seybold (pictured L to R) pose for a photo with veggies at the 2018 National Farm to Cafeteria Conference.

In April, more than 20 people from Minnesota attended the National Farm to Cafeteria Conference. The conference is a biennial event hosted by the National Farm to School Network and brings together a diverse group of stakeholders from across the farm-to-cafeteria movement who work to CONTINUE READING source local food for institutional cafeterias, address inequities in the food system, and foster a culture of food and agricultural literacy across America. A total of 36 workshops organized into 12 topical tracks were presented during the conference. Leaders from Minnesota led five of these workshops!

Conference attendees from Minnesota especially appreciated the strong youth engagement, including 17-year old Haile Thomas, CEO of HAPPY (Healthy Active Positive Purposeful Youth) and the live performance of “Eat Fresh,” an original song performed by students from the Refresh Collective. Finally, Minnesota appreciated the opportunity to build and strengthen relationships with new people and—no surprise—we wanted more time to engage with each other!

Monday, March 12, 2018


The first day of spring is just a week away. We are experiencing longer days and the warmth of the sun. Before we know it, the first spears of asparagus will be popping up through the soil.

Core Elements of Farm to School

We hope to see many of you in Cincinnati next month at the 9th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference (more info below). And we hope you enjoy this latest issue of Farm to School in Minnesota. If you have ideas for the next issue of this newsletter or have questions about farm to school efforts in general, contact us any time at

All our best,
Minnesota’s Farm to School Leadership Team

Family and Consumer Science Frameworks adds farm to table standards and benchmarks

Contributed by Maxine Peterson, Minnesota Department of Education

This summer, the Minnesota 2015 Family and Consumer Science (FACS) Frameworks for middle and high school FACS teachers added farm to table standards and benchmarks. The addition was due to collaboration with The Good Acre, Minnesota School Garden Coalition, Minnesota’s Farm to School Leadership Team, and FACS teachers who have implemented farm to table curriculum in recent years.

The updates in the Fundamentals of Food Preparation section of the curriculum address where food comes from, farm to table food systems, and local food access, including discussion of school gardens and food justice. The Frameworks in the Global Foods section of the curriculum addresses food systems, food sustainability, and technology on an international scale. View the Minnesota Family and Consumer Sciences Frameworks here or on the Minnesota Department of Education website for more detail on scope, sequence, and benchmarks. Contact Maxine Peterson, FACS education specialist, for more information:
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