Kentucky Farm to School Partnerships

We’ve watched the food system in Kentucky evolve and change. With 1 in 6 children in Kentucky experiencing hunger, our partnership with the farm to school program is one of the most important ways for our farm can do good. When we include programs that involve children we expand the reach of nutrition programs far and wide into a community.

Outside of food service in the lunchroom, we were able to create a partnership between the Allen County Schools Food Services Department, the CORE and Dumont Hill Park in 2016 which allowed kids in Allen County to learn more about fresh farm-grown fruits and vegetables. The summer taste tasting and mini farmers market—an educational component of the Summer Feeding Program in Allen County—-was made possible by a Food Services Grant designed to introduce students to fresh Kentucky Proud products grown at a local farm. Additionally, locally grown vegetables were made available at summer feeding sites throughout Scottsville.

“This activity was made possible by the fiscal year 2016 Farm to School Mini-Grant,” noted Mary Hobdy, former Food Services Director for Allen CountySchools.​ “We want these kids to learn more about fruits and vegetables that have been grown on a Kentucky Proud farm right here in Allen County.”

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Students taste a variety of peppers, zucchini, squash, tomatoes and watermleon during a tasting at Dumont Hill Park.

“The Farm to School program is a great asset for Allen County schools. Because of the program, many of our students have been afforded the opportunity to try new fruits and vegetables that they may not have otherwise had. Locally grownproduce is more nutritionally dense because it is consumed more quickly following its harvest, so children get more of a nutritional benefit. Students also gain more insight as to where and how fruits and vegetables are grown. Utilizing locally grown foods is a win-win for our local schools, farmers, and community.” – Amy Meador, Dietitian (Allen County Health Department)

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An example of vegetable tastings provided in the classroom and during summer feeding program.

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An example of the educational sheets sent home with students after a tasting in the classroom.

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In the classroom, we provide taste testing of various fruits and vegetables throughout the year. We specifically offer unique vegetables that the students may have never tasted before. Our focus is on those that can be grown during fall, winter and spring months while school is in session. Students sample brussel sprouts, kale, swiss chard, turnips and radish.

In order to make the sampling fun and exciting, we offer a variety of educational and engaging activities depending on the needs of each school and classroom. Farmer Nathan will visit morning meeting and talk about where the food is grown, a video might be shown highlighting the vegetables that are being sampled and whole vegetables are passed around so kids can see and feel what they look like. Every child receives a handout that offers nutritional information and a story about our farm. This allows them to go home and engage their parents about the experience.

Students are also surveyed as to whether or not they “tried it”, “liked it” or would “try it again”. This is allowing all of our community partners to work towards providing better food access with these nutritional vegetables throughout the year. The students can also provide us feedback about their tasting experience.

“Kids can branch out and eat new foods. Some of the vegetables are good, and some aren’t.” – Sarah (Student Allen County Scottsville Schools)

We also invite Freshman students to come out to the farm. They are able to tour the farm, learn how their food is grown and we hope some of them will consider full-time farming as an occupation. In order to make sure that the experience really hits home we offer a mini farmers market set up where students can select a variety of vegetables to take home with them. We also offer a sampling of quick and easy recipes they can make with those vegetables. The students and teachers always look forward to these farm field days.

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Freshman students “shop” the mini farmers market for greens and root crops. This enables the students to take vegetables home with them after tasting the vegetables during their farm tour.

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Freshman students learn about rotating seeded crops in the field and high tunnels during fall and winter months.

“One of the most important pieces of the integrated farm to school program we are building here in Allen County is getting students out on the farm. Not only do they get to see where food is grown, but they also get to taste them. The high school students that visit the farm in spring and fall also learn some valuable insights into year-round farming. We share information about the farm as a careeropportunity rather than just nutrition.” – Carolyn Richey (Nursing Supervisor Allen County Health Department)

“From an educator’s perspective, the “Farm to School” program is an enhancement of the nutritional program I use with my freshman health classes. The students tell me after the trip what vegetables they liked/disliked from the samples. The “Farm to School” program is an excellent collaboration for students to realize where food comes from. Often our society as a whole, more so now than even a decade ago, has a disconnect from where food comes from. This program is an excellent visualization for such. The “Farm to School” program for our students at Allen County-Scottsville High School is a great addition to our nutritional program.” – Billy Joe Miller (PE/Health Teacher)

The Road to Frankfort (Jeanie Smith for Kentucky)

There’s this triad of womanhood I’ve been digging into for nearly a decade.  Becoming a mother helped me become more aware of my compassion for those who are without basic needs.  I was reminded of moments of my childhood when I was hungry.  It wasn’t my own hunger in adulthood, but the sweet cherub face of my firstborn son that made me fall head over heart for anyone who might have to tell their own child that there isn’t enough to eat that day.  I was hooked on the kindness of compassion.

It was late as Nathan and I made the decision to give up everything we had built for ourselves to go all in on the dream of full time farming that my motherhood and heart for justice came full circle.  It was an overwhelming time made easier by the people who showed up in support and encouragement for those of us without power, without family names or prestige.

Jeanie Smith is one of those people.  

She showed up at meetings, babies in tow, laid out on blankets on the floor next to the executive business tables and power points and people in authority.  Jeanie showed up and listened.  I was the mama and the farmer in the room.  She had no reason to look to me for kmowledge and wisdom except that she believed that if food and farming were concerned why not go to the mamas and farmers for answers.

Not only did Jeanie show up to meetings and listen, but she followed up with action.  She fed the hungry, the homeless.  She visited the farm and asked how she could help.

I became a farmer.

Then, Jeanie looked around and asked herself what she could do and realized that teaching was her calling.  We’ve all seen her commitment to the education system and teachers and been inspired, but I’ve been sitting on the sidelines moved by her courage and commitment.

A food system meeting, 2013.

As a “lay” person, mama and farmer, I can tell you that Jeanie is hear to listen to us.  She cares about hunger.  She cares about opportunity like my dear friend Amanda who wanted to provide for herself with her handmade tamales years ago.  She is inspired by the hard work farmers put in year after year.  She cares about the food system and the health of our communities.  She wants opportunities for women and children like good birth options, healthy food, education, and art.

Jeanie supporting me in the Farm Food Planner, 2017.

Time and time again Jeanie Smith has shown up in support of the creativity and passion in my work as a mama and farmer.  That’s what I’m doing in return for her.  Jeanie is a mama and teacher.  She’s choosing politics as a creative way to take her love for our community to the next level of maturity.  Let’s circle around her, friends.  She needs us and we need her.

I’ll honest that I feel a bit self conscious with this ask, but it just makes me realize how bold and courageous my friend Jeanie is in her work.  We need to empower women in this way.

Here are several other ways you can support:
Visit the Facebook page, RSVP and invite your friends:
Make a donation before or during the event:
Let Jeanie know if you are available for canvassing or volunteering for her campaign!
Many thanks for supporting food, art, children and social justice for our community.
Michelle

2018 Farm School Announcement

Our summer Farm School is sold out, but we are now accepting scholarship applications for students between 6-12 years of age.  Four scholarships available.  $100 value.

Simply mail us a letter (or drawing) by June 20th telling us why you want to attend Farm School.

Mail to:  395 Hickory Lane Scottsville, KY 42164

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We are regularly being asked two questions.  How can folks help us with our farm to school, farm tours, summer feeding programs, vegetable tastings, and other outreach efforts within Bowling Green and Allen County?  AND, Is there an opportunity for families to send their kids to the farm for a day to get a taste of real food and hard work?  We have been sitting on those two questions for a while and think we have a pretty good solution.  Families who can afford to send their kids to a day of learning on the farm will be able to help us financially support the other on farm, in the classroom, tastings and educational programming we offer. It’s this sort of creative cooperative economics that communities thrive on and we are excited about moving our farm forward in this way.
So, without further ado…

2018 Farm School
Tuesday, July 31st

SCHEDULE

7:30 am Student Check-In
Morning Meeting & Yoga

*Lesson:  gratitude for today
Hearty Farm Breakfast Served
*Lesson:  daily meal planning
Feed Animals
*Lesson: raising hogs, cattle, chickens, and sheep
Fruit + Vegetable Harvest
*Lesson:  planting, care, and harvest
Picnic + Free Play
Lesson:  basic cooking skills, serving others, cleanup
Nature Trail Walk
Lesson:  wildflower identification, searching for historic treasures
Community Art Project
Lesson: a history lesson, creative play, storytelling
Farm Dinner
Lesson:  basic cooking skills, serving others, cleanup
Evening Meeting & Chores
Lesson:  working as a team
7:00 pm Student Pick-up

COST:  $100 per student*
Includes all meals, supplies, a basket of farm food from the farm store,
art activities and the Farm School Activity Workbook
Ages 6-9 SOLD OUT
Ages 10-12 SOLD OUT

Please email us if you have further questions or would like to register a student.  Available to the first 20 students who contact us and make payment.
$15 discount for siblings

*all proceeds benefit community outreach efforts of Need More Acres Farm
serving low-income students and seniors in South Central Kentucky.