Thursday, September 25, 2008

The West's Farm to School Assembly

Last Friday I attended the Western Region Assembly for Farm to School, hosted by the lovely Michelle Ratcliffe at Ecotrust in Portland, OR. She/Ecotrust serve as the western region lead for the National Farm to School Network.

Sound like another boring meeting? NOPE! This was truly inspiring and exciting—more like a party than a meeting! First of all, many states arrived with GOOD NEWS! (Watch out San Francisco - we want to be cutting edge, but we are SO behind the times!) Representatives from Oregon, Washington and Montana shared new policies that they have passed in support of school gardens and farm-to-school programs. Their states are MAKING IT HAPPEN! Students are learning to love veggies by growing their own food, and school cafeterias are serving products grown and prepared fresh from their local farms, while strengthening the local economy at the same time. We even got to taste some local school food. Yum!

The major theme of the meeting was, with all this energy and forward momentum, how do we "think like a region" and support each other to make our efforts even stronger and more impacting! Any thoughts, all you westerners?

Also, I finally met in person many of my role models, like Rose Hayden-Smith of Victory Gardens fame, and Sandy Curwood, Director of Food Services for the Ventura public schools (who has made huge strides in getting local farms' fresh food into the school cafeterias!). Plus I spent time with many other amazing Farm-to-Schoolers representing California, Washington, Idaho, and Montana. San Francisco was quite conspicuously missing, while Davis, Santa Cruz, and Los Angeles were out in full force!

For a great overview of the research to date in support of school gardens and farm to school programs follow these links. (If anyone tells you it's not working, don't believe em!!)

And, join our new Facebook group to keep in touch! Props to everyone who is creating the Farm to School revolution!

1 comment:

cheryl said...

This is a terrific post. I was invited to the Western Assembly but was devastated I couldn't attend due to a prior travel commitment. I'm desperate to find out how to improve the food in my local school district, and the links you provided will provide me with a terrific head start. Thanks.