What is Farm to School? 

Farm to school enriches the connection communities have with fresh, healthy food and local food producers by changing food purchasing and education practices at schools and preschools. Students gain access to healthy, local foods as well as education opportunities such as school gardens, cooking lessons and farm field trips. Farm to school empowers children and their families to make informed food choices while strengthening the local economy and contributing to vibrant communities. Farm to school implementation differs by location but always includes one or more of the following core elements: 

Procurement: Local foods are purchased, promoted and served in the cafeteria or as a snack or taste-test; 
Education: Students participate in education activities related to agriculture, food, health or nutrition; and 
School gardens: Students engage in hands-on learning through gardening.

Roots Nature School is honored to participate in the Farm-to-School Summit 2016 held at MSU in Bozeman, MT. Mrs. Aysha was asked to speak at this conference in reference to the extensive work she has completed this summer related to preschool gardening. The raised bed gardens, that many people had a hand in building, have been very successful in providing quality, organic foods to the children of our school. It is a hope that we are able to keep the space and continue this awesome journey in helping littles learn through play and first hand experience and get them excited about their food and where it comes from. Allowing them a hand in the process from seed, to soil, to harvest and plate, THIS is how children LEARN about healthy and respectful food practices. 

Roots Nature School        Nature Based Childcare and Preschool

Benefits to Students

Research shows that students who participate in farm to school programs show an increased willingness to try new fruits and vegetables. Kids that have easy access to a variety of high quality fruits and vegetables eat more of them. By combining increased access to local and fresh fruits and vegetables with farm to school educational activities, children demonstrate healthier nutrition behaviors.

Benefits to local producers and their communities

Farm to school programs create a new market opportunity for food producers and businesses within their own communities. By establishing either “forward contract” or an informal purchasing agreement with a school district, food producers can plan their upcoming production season and volume knowing that they have a committed buyer for their products.Farm to school programs create more security for local producers, allowing them to continue farming on their land, preserving the agricultural heritage of our communities.

Benefits to school food service programs

Farm to school provides an excellent marketing opportunity. These programs can enhance student and staff participation in school meal programs by offering fresh and delicious foods. Farm to school programs present a natural connection between the school food service program and classrooms. The cafeteria becomes part of the learning environment for the students. Farm to school programs provide a wonderful opportunity for the school food service staff to connect with the food producers in their community and become important stakeholders in improving their community’s access to healthy, delicious food.

For more information and research on the benefits of farm to school practices, download the National Farm to School Network's Benefits Fact Sheet.