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Showing posts from March, 2020

Pilot incentive program coming soon!

March 2020: Update on NEW pilot incentive, regional workshops, emerging farmers report and more!

Hello farm to school supporters, 

Whether you identify as a long time champion of farm to school or not, you’ve probably recognized that the implementation of farm to school practices promotes community food security. The organization WhyHunger defines community food security as “a condition in which all community residents obtain a safe, culturally appropriate, nutritionally sound diet through an economically and environmentally sustainable food system that promotes community self-reliance and social justice.” As plans ramp up to respond to the growing concerns of COVID-19, the collective recognition and value of community food security will increase. Resources to get ready and stay healthy are available on the CDC’s website. 

We hope this Spring issue of our Farm to School in Minnesota newsletter provides you with relevant information. We welcome your contributions and ideas for a future qu…

Update on the farm to school pilot incentive

Contributed by: Helen Schnoes, Minnesota Department of Agriculture 


Thanks to the work of Farm to School supporters across Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s (MDA) next round of AGRI Farm to School Grants will offer a new incentive for schools to grow their farm to school purchasing and support of Minnesota producers. Through a pilot competitive grant program, the MDA will reimburse selected schools for the purchase of local foods. The MDA anticipates launching the grant RFP in May 2020, and expects that funds will be available to awardees around the start of the 2020-2021 school year.

The parameters for this new pilot program are still in development. The MDA hopes that schools of varying sizes and experiences with Farm to School from across the state will apply. Unfortunately, the MDA cannot answer specific questions about the scope of the grant at this time.

So what can you do in the meantime?

Everyone: Sign up for updates! Interested schools, farmers, and community p…

Farm to School Workshops Across Greater Minnesota

Contributed by: Grace Brogan, Renewing the Countryside

We’re excited to share with you that throughout the winter and spring of 2020, six Farm to School workshops are taking place to build connections and skills among area farmers, school nutrition staff, and others interested in increasing local food purchasing among community institutions. Attendees will: 

Learn from peers who have experienced Farm to School successes and have navigated challengesBuild relationships and explore opportunities between local food producers, school nutrition staff, efficiencies via farmers market aggregation, and other local buyers interested in purchasing from area farmersBuild on needs and opportunities within each specific community, sparking momentumLearn about best practices and resources around local food purchasing, school gardens, culinary skills and other Farm to School concepts 
Communities surrounding Aitkin, Wabasha/Lake City, and Grand Rapids have already conducted well-attended and productive…

Emerging Farmers in Minnesota and farm to school

Contributed by: Stephanie Heim, University of Minnesota Extension 

In this newletter’s December issue, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Assistant Commissioner, Patrice Bailey, described the agency's role in supporting emerging farmers.  Last month, a report was presented to the Minnesota Legislature that lays out recommendations on [Read more] reducing or eliminating barriers faced by new and potential farmers in Minnesota. 

“People who identify as emerging farmers feel unseen in the current system,” Assistant Commissioner Patrice Bailey said. “We have tried to identify in this report ways to make our agricultural economy more inclusive to all who want to share in it. This report is an important step in identifying the biggest barriers to entry that prevent many Minnesotans from owning and operating their own farms.”

Of the many opportunities outlined in the report to support and cultivate emerging farmers in Minnesota, one states, “Advance Farm-to-School/Institution initiat…

Mark your calendar for a Farm to School get together May 14

Are you interested in connecting with fellow farm to school nerds? If so, join others from across Minnesota for an informal get together over Zoom video conference on May 14th from 2:00-3:30 PM. Email Steph

Celebrate Farm to Summer Week July 27-31, 2020

Farm to summer brings the core elements of farm to school into the USDA Summer Food Service Program. Register your site now for the Cucumber Crunch and Minnesota Thursdays on July 30. Learn more

Save the Date for the 7th annual Great Lakes Great Apple Crunch

Last year, 1,805,338 people in the Great Lakes crunched into local apples. Help us reach 2 million crunchers in 2020 by joining the celebration on Thursday, October 8, 2020. More details coming soon.

Farm to Summer Successes in Minnesota

The new IATP report explores the feasibility of expanding Farm to Summer activities and the opportunities and challenges that come with implementing these strategies. Read more.