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Showing posts from December, 2017

Good morning!

We want to welcome you—all 117 of you—to the second quarterly Farm to School in Minnesota newsletter. Thank you for working so hard to make farm to school a reality across Minnesota.
We hope you enjoy this newsletter and are able to savor some food grown by Minnesota farmers this season. If you have ideas, feedback, or questions, contact us anytime at farmtoschool@umn.edu. In the holiday spirit, please share this newsletter with others.
Happy Holidays! Minnesota’s Farm to School Leadership Team

School gardens as outdoor classrooms

While there are more winter days ahead, now is a perfect time to begin planning a school garden. In this issue, three dynamite members of the Minnesota School Garden Coalition—Kirsten Saylor, Carrie Stowers, and Lori Murphy—write about the benefits of school gardens and invite you to the annual Minnesota Schoolyard Garden Conference to hear from programs like the Green Thumb Initiative and Crossroads School and Vocational Center.

Local food procurement training recap

Contributed by: Sami Burington and Megan LeClair, Minnesota Department of Education
Local foods truly can span the school meal tray. Forty-five school nutrition staff participating in the Minnesota Department of Education’s (MDE) Local Procurement workshop in October learned this and created action plans to serve even more local products in their school nutrition programs by usingUSDA’s Farm to Child Nutrition Programs Planning Guide andFarm to School Planning Toolkit. Participants also learned about procurement basics, where to find local products, and heard from an Extension educator and food safety specialist on what on-farm food safety practices to look for.
Students across Minnesota are demanding more local products too! Students in the Fridley School District prefer biting into local apples and specifically ask when the “good” apples are coming. Thanks to a Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) grant, the district was able to conduct apple taste tests in which seventh a…

Funding opportunity for value added producers

Contributed by: David Wittwer, Rural Development, United States Department of Agriculture
USDA Rural Development is currently accepting applications for the Value Added Producer Grant program (VAPG). This program can be used to conduct feasibility studies or as working capital for value added projects. Applicants must be independent producers, agricultural producer groups, farmer- or rancher-cooperatives, or majority-controlled producer-based business ventures. Value added methodologies range from a change in physical state of the agricultural product to an agricultural product that was produced in a manner that enhances its value.

Farm to school grows local economies

Farm to school offers cross-sectoral benefits for children, farmers, and communities. However, limited data are available to truly understand the economic impacts of farm to school procurement. Using a survey and case study approach, this report—a collaborative project of the National Farm to School Network and Colorado State University—examines the economic impact of local purchasing and provides new insight into the potential for farm to school procurement to positively impact local economies.