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Showing posts from June, 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

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 expand…

October Is National Farm to School Month

Contributed by Farm to School Leadership Team

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 cr…

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…

Minnesota Well Represented at the National Farm to Cafeteria Conference

Contributed by Stephanie Heim, University of Minnesota Extension
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 …