By Callie Recknagel, MAEE Board Member and Farm to School Coordinator with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture
October is National Farm to School Month! What’s so important about Farm to School, and how does it relate toenvironmental education?
The National Farm to School Network breaks down Farm to School into three parts: 1) Local food procurement, 2) Education, and 3) School Gardens.
Most people identify Farm to School with getting local foods into the cafeteria. While that is a big part of it, there is so much more that is included in this big umbrella of Farm to School. It’s about helping people understand where their food comes from, how it is grown, connecting them to who is growing it, and helping them appreciate the work that goes into providing them with healthy food everyday. It’s about the hands on experience of getting your hands in the dirt, planting a seed and watching it grow, learning what goes into making plants thrive, and being able to harvest that food from the garden and taste the freshness and the flavor and feel the pride of eating something that you grew yourself.
Seeing the look on a child’s face when they pull a carrot out of the ground for the first time will never get old. Those looks are full of wonder, disbelief, awe, and excitement. All of that makes those students more eager to try that carrot, and increases the likelihood that they will enjoy it! Involving students in the act of growing their own food, or connecting them to the process in some way can have a deep impact on building their long term healthy food habits.
There are so many ways to integrate farm to school and school gardens in all subjects. Check out some of these resources to learn more and get inspired to celebrate Farm to School month!
- University of Minnesota Extension – Farm to School toolkit
- National Farm to School Network – resources
- Minnesota Department of Agriculture Farm to School – funding and success stories
- Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom – free lessons and educational materials
- Minnesota Grown – find local foods for your school
- Celebrate Great Lakes Great Apple Crunch on October 22nd
- I Dig My Farmer – Institute on Agriculture and Trade Policy, promotional materials