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Showing posts from June, 2020

School Gardens address environmental injustice

Contributed by: Members of the MN School Garden Coalition - Kirsten Saylor, School Garden Specialist Consultant, Saint Paul and Heidi Auel, Discovery Woods School, Brainerd


For the last year, we have heard that the system needs to be disrupted in order to be fixed. Covid-19 shook up the playing field for education, and the abhorrent murder of George Floyd was a visual that could not be ignored. Farm to School is a movement to connect kids to where their food comes from, but at this time what more can we do to truly listen, end white silence, and decenter whiteness in this movement.

School Gardens implicitly address environmental injustice in both urban and rural communities, where kids are disconnected from where their food comes from, how to work or even feel fertile soil, and the magic of planting seeds and nurturing seedlings. But we need to go further, ask questions, question assumptions, and open ourselves up to be a learner as well as teacher. If we are not learning from our stude…

Resources for Minnesota farmers during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Extension’s response plan template

Contributed by: Annalisa Hultberg, Extension Educator Farm Food Safety
The COVID-19 pandemic took the nation and world by surprise this spring, with many businesses closing or rapidly adjusting in an effort to slow the spread of the SARS-Co-V-2 virus. Farmers, like many other businesses, are seeking information about how the disease is transmitted and how to manage their operations to reduce transmission of the illness among their crews and to the public. Many farms are seeing changes to their operations this year as a result of COVID-19, with many markets such as restaurants and schools abruptly ending or greatly diminishing, while demand from some markets like CSAs, some farmers’ markets and other direct-to-consumer markets dramatically increasing. All farmers are trying to work with the “new normal” of physical distancing and learning new protocols, which might look significantly different from previous years.




To help farms and gardens plan for how they will run their operations to …

Farmers’ Market Hubs: Making Local Food Available to Local Institutions

Contributed by: Grace Brogan, Renewing the Countryside and Jane Jewett, Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture

Farmers’ Market Hubs in Minnesota are farmers’ markets that have secured food handler licensing from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and are operating as “aggregators.” These nine farmers’ markets are open for wholesale business and could make perfect partners for local institutions, including schools and early care facilities. The hubs collect products from multiple vendors – including farmers but also bakers and crafters – and offer those products for sale. The markets have been operating as aggregators since 2018, with a focus on sales to institutions like schools, early-care facilities, nursing homes, and hospitals. The nine farmers’ markets across Minnesota participating in the aggregation project have been funded by Specialty Crop Block Grants to help establish the model: https://farmersmarkethub.org.

The markets would like their local institutions to kn…

New COVID-19 Rapid Response Farm to School funding Available from Minnesota Department of Agriculture

Contributed by: Helen Schnoes, Minnesota Department of Agriculture

In response to the impact of COVID-19 on both schools and farmers selling to institutional markets, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) created two Rapid Response Farm to School Mini grants. The MDA anticipates awarding up to $124,000 to respond to the disruptions caused in traditional Farm to School markets.
Funding will be awarded in two grants:

1. AGRI Farm to School Rapid Response for Schools – Grants are intended for school districts to begin, diversify, and expand purchasing from Minnesota producers during the COVID-19 pandemic, primarily during the summer and fall 2020. School districts may apply for $1,000 to $5,000 and there is no match required.

2. AGRI Farm to School Rapid Response for Food Vendors – Grants are intended to support equipment purchases for food vendors that will help them to meet the product needs of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. Agricultural producers (farmers, ranch…

Welcome to the Summer issue of Farm to School in Minnesota

Hello everyone,
Last week, I was in several meetings with colleagues I respect and look up to about the work Extension must do to address systemic racism in Minnesota. As a white woman, I have had the privilege to ignore racism and the privilege to learn about racism. The murder of George Floyd in our state has reignited a global movement for justice. The depth of our state's racial disparities are staggering. This is a time for action. We must commit to learn, grow and do better.
This Summer issue is full of news and resources that feature the rapid changes and action spurred by COVID-19. In the Fall issue, I’m hopeful we’ll write about initial actions taken to address systemic racism.

And if you haven’t already, please make time to read this statement from the Executive Director of the National Farm to School Network titled, “There Is No Food Justice Without Racial Justice.”

Stephanie Heim
University of Minnesota Extension Member of Minnesota’s Farm to School Leadership Team