Category Archives: CA Farm To Fork website

Specialty Crop Student Farm Tours – Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center in Southern California

As the host of the California Farm to School Network, the California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Farm to Fork (CDFA-F2F) helps raise the next generation of California agriculture leaders. This year, through Specialty Crop Block Grant funding, CDFA-F2F hosted a series of four student field trips, providing opportunities for culinary students to harvest their own produce from the field, speak directly with farmers and practice culinary skills with the highest quality ingredients. For many students, these experiences will be the spark that starts a lifelong relationship with California produce and the people who grow it.

As the final field trip in the specialty crop farm tour series, high school culinary students from the San Diego area had the opportunity to visit Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center, where they toured, tasted and taught their way through a Summer Chef’s Camp. Students participating in camp experienced many new foods, like tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots, all of which they harvested from the premises themselves.

While many students experienced these products for the first time, others flexed their culinary muscles and helped teach other students through peer-to-peer coaching.

Stay tuned for more updates on the California Farm to School movement in the future.

– CDFA Farm to Fork Staff

This article is part of a series chronicling the CDFA Office of Farm to Fork’s student farm tours. Made possible by Specialty Crop Block Grant funding, these farm tours aim to increase students’ knowledge of and appreciation for California specialty crops through direct interaction with local specialty crop farmers.

Specialty Crop Block Grant School Success Story — Humboldt County Office of Education

“We are encouraging curiosity about food in students and building their confidence to take the “risk” of trying fruits and veggies that are foreign to them.” — Erin Derden-Little, Farm to School Coordinator for Humboldt County Office of Education

The Humboldt County Office of Education (HCOE) provides collaboration, management and support to the 32 school districts within Humboldt County, one of the largest and most rural counties in the state of California. There are approximately 18,500 students enrolled in Humboldt County schools, over 55% of whom qualify for free and reduced-price meals. HCOE Nutrition Programs & Services works to provide teachers, school food service staff, students, parents and community members with the tools and resources to support Humboldt County students in making lifelong healthy choices. One of the most successful ways HCOE is working to support students’ healthy lifestyles is through its robust farm to school program.

HCOE has a long track record of supporting farm to school. When Farm to School Coordinator Erin Derden-Little joined HCOE in 2016, a team of women had already been carrying out Harvest of the Month and other nutrition education activities for nearly 20 years. The program’s longest standing activity, Harvest of the Month, offers a powerful framework that reaches students in every part of the school day. Each month, HCOE delivers a ready-to-go curriculum and materials to over 200 K-5th grade classrooms, 26 after school programs and 18 pre-schools and playgroups – making it possible for over 4,800 children to try a featured produce item each month. Derden-Little said the program makes an effort to source 70% of produce from local farmers and has featured a wide variety of specialty crops including hakurei salad turnips, leeks, persimmons and kohlrabi. For each local produce item featured, HCOE creates a short video about the farm and produce item; these videos are shown in the classroom and have become a favorite of students and teachers.

By connecting school food service with Humboldt County farmers, HCOE is also helping schools source local produce for their meal programs and has assisted districts with following local procurement guidelines and developing bid documentation. Derden-Little explained that local sourcing is a challenge for HCOE’s smaller, spread-out districts because it’s not feasible for farmers to deliver small volumes over a wide geographic area and there are no other distribution options for schools to source local produce. To overcome this barrier, Derden-Little said HCOE has begun ordering extra quantities of local produce for interested school districts as part of their regular Harvest of the Month program. HCOE pays the farmer for the entire order, then uses an inter-district transfer process to collect payment; the produce is then distributed to districts with their regular Harvest of the Month deliveries.

In addition to the classroom and the cafeteria, Derden-Little said after-school programs have also been an area of focus for HCOE. Currently, 26 participating after-school programs receive a Harvest of the Month snack recipe at the beginning of the month and a more extensive recipe near the end of the month. After-school leaders work with the kids to create the recipe, then parents get to sample the finished product at pick-up time. To further support healthy eating at home, each month six to seven after-school programs also distribute bags of ingredients and recipe cards to 20 families as part of HCOE’s Family Meal Market program. That means between 120 and 140 families are receiving fresh produce and recipes from HCOE each month. Derden-Little explained the Family Meal Market program is a way for HCOE to help low-income and vulnerable families as they reach the end of their paychecks late in the month. The program has been a success, and Derden-Little said participating families have reported purchasing ingredients on their own to make the recipes again.

Derden-Little said one of the greatest impacts of HCOE’s efforts is that students are becoming less afraid of trying new foods, especially healthy foods. HCOE regularly collects feedback from Harvest of the Month teachers; one teacher noted, “Every time we try a new food at least one student who didn’t think they were going to like it finds they do. Families have shared with me that their kids come home asking them to buy certain produce, so they are helping their families make healthy choices!” By serving flavorful and nutrient-dense produce and building the connection to farmers, Derden-Little said HCOE is creating a positive and fun experience for students and changing the culture around healthy eating.

Check out HCOE’s Harvest of the Month videos on their Vimeo channel.

– CDFA Farm to Fork Staff

This article is part of a series highlighting organizations that are successfully promoting specialty crops in schools. Made possible by Specialty Crop Block Grant funding, these success stories aim to inspire similar efforts, ultimately increasing student access to, knowledge of, and demand for California specialty crops.

Specialty Crop Block Grant School Success Story — Sierra Harvest

As part of their Harvest of the Month program, Sierra Harvest provides tastings of fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables for students at participating schools in Nevada County

Based in Nevada City, Sierra Harvest is a non-profit organization whose mission is to educate, inspire and connect Nevada County families to fresh, local seasonal food. Sierra Harvest works to accomplish this mission by supporting activities for three key groups – children through its farm to school program, farmers through training and education, and the community through connecting people to local food.

Sierra Harvest’s farm to school program has become one of the key ways Nevada County’s students are learning about and eating more specialty crops. Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, Sierra Harvest’s farm to school program currently reaches 96% of K-8 students in western Nevada County. Sierra Harvest offers participating schools a variety of activities as part of its farm to school program, including harvest of the month, cooking lessons with guest chefs, field trips to local farms, farm-fresh produce on school garden carts, farmer visits to classrooms, spring plant sales and support for school garden initiatives. Because each school is unique, Sierra Harvest’s Farm to School Director Marisha Finkler encourages schools to implement the program differently depending on their needs and priorities; this flexibility ensures there’s a combination of activities that works for every school. In addition, Sierra Harvest works to keep the program affordable at $2 per student and assists schools with fundraising opportunities.

The core activity that is consistent across all farm to school participants is the harvest of the month program. Over the past 10 years, this program has introduced Nevada County students to 50 varieties of fruits and vegetables and provided over 50,000 pounds of local produce through monthly tastings. According to Finkler, Sierra Harvest has found that even picky eaters will try vegetables at school if they see other kids trying them. Finkler reports that over the past year, 72% of students tried something new through harvest of the month and, on average, Sierra Harvest has seen a 43% increase in students liking the items sampled through harvest of the month. Generously sponsored by BriarPatch Food Co-op, Sierra Harvest is currently providing monthly tastings of seasonal, fresh produce to 33 schools and other institutions such as Dignity Health and Cascade Senior Living.

In addition to farm to school activities, Sierra Harvest works to promote specialty crops in schools by supporting local procurement efforts. Sierra Harvest partnered with Nevada Joint Union High School and Nevada City School District to help launch Foothills Fresh, a scratch cooked school meal program featuring local organic foods. This new program served over 53,000 scratch cooked lunches in the 2017/2018 school year, more than doubling the number of students participating in school lunch.

According to Finkler, Sierra Harvest’s farm to school efforts have grown more than just produce in Nevada County – they have also helped grow meaningful relationships between students, schools, farmers, guest chefs and the community. From harvesting produce in the field to preparing it in the classroom, these hands-on farm to school activities help students develop an understanding of where their food comes from and may even have impacts outside the classroom. Finkler notes Sierra Harvest has found that on average, 57% of participating students’ families are buying farmer direct, including farmers markets, community supported agriculture memberships, farm stands, etc.

For more information about Sierra Harvest, including their harvest of the month newsletters and guest chef recipes, please visit their website. To hear what students are saying about the program, check out their YouTube channel or follow them on Instagram.

Stay tuned for more specialty crop school success stories in the coming weeks.

– CDFA Farm to Fork Staff

This article is part of a series highlighting organizations that are successfully promoting specialty crops in schools. Made possible by Specialty Crop Block Grant funding, these success stories aim to inspire similar efforts, ultimately increasing student access to, knowledge of, and demand for California specialty crops.

Specialty Crop Block Grant Student Farm Tour — Soil Born Farms

Third graders from Pacific Elementary School head out to the field to harvest fava greens

Teaching kids about the benefits of eating fresh fruits and vegetables when they’re young can help form healthy habits that last a lifetime. Research shows that farm to school efforts can have positive impacts on kids’ food choices and attitudes towards fresh fruits and vegetables, including increasing their knowledge of nutrition, their willingness to try new fruits and vegetables, and can even lead to requesting more fruits and vegetables at home. Because today’s students will become tomorrow’s adults, efforts to build student knowledge of and appreciation for fruits and vegetables has the potential to drive long-term specialty crop sales and lifelong healthy eating habits.

Thanks to a Specialty Crop Block Grant, the California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Farm to Fork (CDFA-F2F) helped fund a series of farm tour field trips for third graders from two Sacramento elementary schools. Over the course of three rainy winter days, Soil Born Farms Urban Agriculture and Education Project welcomed students from Pacific Elementary School and Camellia Waldorf School to visit the American River Ranch, a historic 55-acre organic farm located within the American River Parkway in Rancho Cordova. A team of Soil Born staff members, interns and volunteers helped guide each group of students on an exciting morning of exploring the farm.

Before venturing into the elements, students received a lesson on farm safety and geared up in protective shoe covers. It was then off to the field, where they harvested fava greens and learned about how cover crops help build the health of the soil and replenish nutrients like nitrogen. After leaving the field, students stopped by the greenhouse to look at seedlings before making their way over to the youth garden to harvest parsley. Students next headed into the schoolhouse, where they received a lesson in knife safety before chopping up vegetables to make soup. While waiting for the soup to cook, students participated in a variety of activities, including learning about the different parts of a plant, drawing seed packets and journaling about their experiences on the farm. The students wrapped up their farm tour field trip with a warm bowl of delicious and nutritious vegetable soup featuring the ingredients they harvested and prepared – with nearly all students asking for seconds!

A special thank you to Soil Born staff members Shannon Hardwicke, Youth Education Manager; Alyssa Kassner, Youth Education Assistant Manager; Jenn MacLeod, Youth Educator; and Michelle Sikora, Cooking and Nutrition Coordinator; as well as the interns, volunteers, teachers and parents that made these field trips possible.

Third graders from Pacific Elementary School prep the fava greens they harvested from the field moments earlier.

Stay tuned for more specialty crop student farm tours in the coming weeks.

– CDFA Farm to Fork Staff

This article is part of a series chronicling the CDFA Office of Farm to Fork’s student farm tours. Made possible by Specialty Crop Block Grant funding, these farm tours aim to increase students’ knowledge of and appreciation for California specialty crops through direct interaction with local specialty crop farmers.

Specialty Crop Block Grant School Success Story — Natomas Unified School District

“Yes, we serve food, but we’re also an educational setting. We take time to teach kids about food,” – Vince Caguin, Director of Nutrition Services and Warehousing for the Natomas Unified School District

Natomas Unified School District (NUSD) is a mid-size school district located north of downtown Sacramento. Named as the second most diverse school district in the nation in a 2016 New York Times study, NUSD serves 15,000 students across 20 school sites, of whom approximately 51% qualify for free and reduced-price meals. Declared “America’s Farm to Fork Capital” by former Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, the Sacramento region has a rich agricultural heritage and an abundance of locally grown specialty crops. Vince Caguin, Director of Nutrition Services and Warehousing for NUSD, embraces the region’s farm to fork identity and is working to bring this abundance of local fruits and vegetables to NUSD students through farm to school efforts.

Caguin and his staff in the NUSD Nutrition Services Department have worked diligently to bring local specialty crops into their cafeterias. By cultivating relationships with local farmers including Fiery Ginger Farm, Vierra Farms, Cloverleaf Farm and Wild River, just to name a few, NUSD is now able to source 35% of its procurement locally. These farmer relationships enable NUSD to feature seasonal produce like peaches, blackberries, citrus and kiwi at the peak of freshness. Jennifer Orosco, Supervisor of Nutrition Services and Warehousing, said NUSD has expanded to include salad bars at all school sites and, as a result, has seen an increase in the amount of fruits and vegetables that are being consumed by the students. Orosco said this year marks the first time NUSD has been able to source 100% of the lettuce for its salad bars from a local grower.

In addition to supporting local procurement and specialty crops in school meals, Caguin and his staff are working to support experiential learning and nutrition education for NUSD students. NUSD partners with local farmers to participate in assemblies at schools, as well as to take students on farm tour field trips so they can see firsthand how specialty crops are grown. In addition, two NUSD sites have school gardens, one of which is incorporating the garden into the classroom curriculum and hosting monthly cooking demonstrations for families. To celebrate National Farm to School Month in October, NUSD hosts free farmers markets for students and parents, with the help of donated produce and a USDA farm to school implementation grant. NUSD also participates in programs like California Thursdays in partnership with the Center for Ecoliteracy, and the California Crunch in partnership with the Community Alliance with Family Farmers.

By supporting local procurement, nutrition education and experiential learning, NUSD is seeing positive impacts for both students and the district as a whole. Caguin has observed student willingness to try new things increase over the seven years he’s been with the district. Although it takes a few tries, the students become accustomed to and begin to enjoy trying new things. Caguin said NUSD’s meal participation increased from 1.1 million meals in the 2012-13 school year to 1.8 million meals in 2017-18, outpacing district growth. Seven years ago, NUSD was in a deficit; its operating budget has since increased from around $2.5 million to $5.5 million, which Caguin said is due in large part to increased meal participation.

When asked what advice he has for other districts, Caguin said he believes the quality of meal programs has a direct relationship with participation and revenue. Caguin also notes that an important part of NUSD’s success has been ensuring support for his staff, including farm tours and other professional development activities. This staff support has helped reinforce Caguin’s mission to establish a culture of serving good food. The additional time spent building relationships with local farmers, serving 17 items on salad bars, roasting carrots and broccoli, and countless other activities has been well worth it, Caguin said, because of the benefits for students.

To see more of what NUSD is serving up, follow them on Instagram at @nusdfood.

Stay tuned for more specialty crop school success stories in the coming weeks.

– CDFA Farm to Fork Staff

This article is part of a series highlighting organizations that are successfully promoting specialty crops in schools. Made possible by Specialty Crop Block Grant funding, these success stories aim to inspire similar efforts, ultimately increasing student access to, knowledge of, and demand for California specialty crops.

USDA Pilot Project Success Story — Napa Valley Unified

“We need to feed kids the highest quality food at school because it’s tied to so many different things — mental cognition, behavioral issues, academic performance, athletic performance, just everything.” — Brandy Dreibelbis, Director of Nutrition Services for Napa Valley Unified School District

The most recent USDA Farm to School Census found that 54% of California schools want to purchase more local food in the future. With the great agricultural bounty of our state, fresh fruits and vegetables are an ideal way for California schools to increase their local purchases. With the help of the USDA Pilot Project for the Procurement of Unprocessed Fruits and Vegetables, many participating California school districts have been able to do just that. (Read more about the Pilot Project in our earlier post here)

One of these Pilot Project success stories is Napa Valley Unified School District (NVUSD). Brandy Dreibelbis joined the NVUSD team as Director of Nutrition Services just over a year and a half ago and, in that brief time, has managed to dramatically improve the quality of food served to the district’s students. Participating in the Pilot Project has empowered Dreibelbis to shift away from the processed foods offered under the previous food service management contract in favor of freshly prepared foods and California-grown fruits and vegetables.

Serving the California Bay Area communities of American Canyon, Napa City and Yountville, NVUSD has over 17,000 K-12 students in 28 schools. NVUSD’s food service program, branded Napa’s Operative for School Food Health or NOSH, is currently serving an average of 8,000 meals per day. Although NVUSD has been experiencing declining enrollment, the number of students who qualify for free and reduced price meals continues to grow and is currently over 50%. Because many NVUSD students come from food insecure households, Dreibelbis believes it is particularly important for her program to offer students the best foods possible while they are at school.

One of the ways NVUSD has accomplished this is by installing a salad bar stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables in each school. Students are required to take at least one item from the salad bar to meet reimbursable meal requirements. Offerings change seasonally, and the majority are California grown and sourced through the Pilot Project. According to Dreibelbis, school salad bars may be the only exposure students from food insecure households get to fresh fruits and vegetables. By ensuring students have access to fresh fruits and vegetables at school, Dreibelbis hopes to build healthy eating habits that students will carry with them into adulthood.

Dreibelbis said participating in the Pilot Project has been beneficial for her district. NVUSD continues to spend more of its USDA entitlement through the Pilot Project each year, allocating $125,000 for 2018/2019 – an increase of $10,000 over the current school year. By using the Pilot Project as a way to purchase locally, Dreibelbis feels she is benefiting her community while providing the highest quality food for NVUSD students.

For more information about the Pilot Project, please visit the California Department of Education’s Pilot Project website. Farmers and distributors interested in selling to schools as part of the Pilot Project can click here to learn how to become a USDA-approved vendor.

Stay tuned for more Pilot Project success stories in the coming weeks.

– CDFA Farm to Fork Staff

This article is part of a series highlighting school districts that are participating in the USDA Pilot Project for Unprocessed Fruits and Vegetables. Made possible by Specialty Crop Block Grant funding, these success stories aim to create awareness of the Pilot Project as a way to increase the amount of California specialty crops served in schools.

Specialty Crop Block Grant Farm Tour – Deepseeded Farm

“I always have eaten fresh produce, but seeing the farm in person is always a nice reminder of how much better it is,” — Arcata High School Culinary Student

The California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Farm to Fork (CDFA-F2F) hopes to build meaningful connections between youth and where their food comes from through organizing a series of farm tour field trips for students throughout the state. Efforts to bring the farm into classrooms have seen success in recent years, with initiatives such as school gardens and local produce in school meals gaining popularity. Now, thanks to Specialty Crop Block Grant funding, CDFA-F2F is working to bring classrooms to the farm. Farm tours are valuable experiences that get students out of their classrooms and into the field to encounter firsthand the work that goes into growing and harvesting fruits and vegetables.

CDFA-F2F kicked off its series of specialty crop farm tours on California’s North Coast with the help of Erin Derden-Little, Farm to School Coordinator for the Humboldt County Office of Education and Regional Lead for the California Farm to School Network. On a cloudy February day, a group of culinary students from Arcata High School visited DeepSeeded Farm to learn how a specialty crop farm operates and what kinds of crops were in season. Located within the city of Arcata and only a mile away from Arcata High School, DeepSeeded is a diverse and productive farm offering community supported agriculture (CSA) memberships to Humboldt Bay area households. By using high tunnels and other strategies for season extension, DeepSeeded provides its CSA members with a weekly supply of fresh, seasonal produce well into the winter months.

Farmer Eddie Tanner welcomed the culinary students to his farm and took them on a tour of the field. Tanner showed the students which specialty crops were still growing during the winter season and discussed options for using the seasonal crops in the kitchen. The students then helped harvest cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale and lettuce to use in their culinary activities at school.

“I really enjoyed getting to pick vegetables and learning about all of them individually,” said one student. When asked what they learned on the farm, one student responded that they were surprised by the amount and variety of produce that’s available during winter. Another student said they could immediately taste the difference of fresh food.

Stay tuned for more specialty crop student farm tours in the coming weeks.

– CDFA Farm to Fork Staff

This article is part of a series chronicling the CDFA Office of Farm to Fork’s student farm tours. Made possible by Specialty Crop Block Grant funding, these farm tours aim to increase students’ knowledge of and appreciation for California specialty crops through direct interaction with local specialty crop farmers.

USDA Pilot Project Success Story — Santa Clara Unified School District

“The Pilot Project gives us a greater opportunity to get items that the kids enjoy that we can’t necessarily affort to buy a lot of, like stone fruit — and it’s all local” — Karen Luna, Director of Nutrition Services for the Santa Clara Unified School District

Since its inception in 2014, the USDA Pilot Project for the Procurement of Unprocessed Fruits and Vegetables has been a valuable way for participating California school districts to stretch their budgets while maximizing their purchases of fresh fruits and vegetables. Participating in the Pilot Project benefits school districts by allowing them to use a portion of their USDA Foods commodity allocation to purchase fresh and minimally processed fruits and vegetables directly from USDA-approved vendors. (Read more about the Pilot Project in our earlier post here)

Santa Clara Unified School District (SCUSD) is one example of a California district that has been using the Pilot Project to increase its ability to purchase fresh and minimally processed fruits and vegetables. A 56-square-mile area encompassing neighborhoods in the cities of Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, San Jose and Cupertino, SCUSD has over 15,000 K-12 students across 27 school sites. The district serves about 2,400 breakfasts and 7,500 lunches each day, and approximately 38% of SCUSD’s students qualify for free and reduced-price meals.

Karen Luna, Director of Nutrition Services for SCUSD, said 2019/2020 will be the district’s third year participating in the Pilot Project. SCUSD allocated $50,000 in 2017/2018 and 2018/2019, and chose to increase their allocation to $75,000 for 2019/2020. The district utilizes its Pilot Project funds to purchase minimally processed fruits and vegetables, such as sliced apples, as well as stone fruit, pears, persimmons, plums and many types of citrus. Luna uses the Pilot Project to supplement the fruits and vegetables grown on SCUSD’s 11-acre farm.

Luna believes the Pilot Program is a valuable opportunity that enables school districts to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables that they might not be able to afford otherwise because they can use their USDA commodity dollars. Using USDA commodity dollars toward fresh fruits and vegetables is not only beneficial for the students, Luna said, but also for her district because it helps offset additional expenses resulting from changes to federal meal requirements. Luna also appreciates that the USDA-approved vendor SCUSD works with sources much of its produce from local family farms. By increasing the amount of produce served by using the Pilot Project in combination with the district’s farm to school activities, Luna has seen an increase in students’ willingness to eat fresh fruits and vegetables.

To see more of what SCUSD is serving up, follow them on Instagram at @santaclaraunifiednutriton.

For more information about the Pilot Project, please visit the California Department of Education’s Pilot Project website. Farmers and distributors interested in selling to schools as part of the Pilot Project can click here to learn how to become a USDA-approved vendor.

Stay tuned for more Pilot Project success stories in the coming weeks.

–  CDFA Farm to Fork Staff

This article is part of a series highlighting school districts that are participating in the USDA Pilot Project for Unprocessed Fruits and Vegetables. Made possible by Specialty Crop Block Grant funding, these success stories aim to create awareness of the Pilot Project as a way to increase the amount of California specialty crops served in schools.

California Farm to School Network Needs Assessment

Last summer, many of you helped us as we conducted a needs assessment and developed a transition plan for the California Farm to School Network. The results are out!

The California Farm to School Network Needs Assessment is available online and dives into the history of the Network, discusses opportunities and challenges facing the Network, and makes recommendations for the Network moving forward.

Thank you to all who participated in the process – by answering survey questions, sitting down for an interview, and all your ongoing work to support California farm to school programs.

Congratulations to California’s 2018 USDA Farm to School Grantees!

USDA’s Office of Community Food Systems announced today that 73 communities in 43 states, the District of Columbia and Guam have been awarded farm to school grants to explore, expand, or scale up their farm to school activities. The 2018 awards total $5.2 million, and will impact 2.8 million students.

Congratulations to our California Grantees:

  • Bakersfield City School District, Bakersfield

Through partnership, collaboration, and engagement, Bakersfield City School District will create a comprehensive network that incorporates food production, processing, distribution, consumption, and waste recovery.

  • Colusa County Office of Education, Colusa

Colusa County Office of Education (CCOE) will actively partner with the Colusa Indian Community Hand In Hand Learning Center, Williams Unified School District, Colusa County Resource Conservation District, and the Center for Healthy Communities to develop a comprehensive plan to incorporate locally grown foods on student meal trays and at home. The CCOE garden site will include a greenhouse for seedlings, leafy greens and vegetables in raised beds, and a small orchard of nut and fruit trees. The garden sites will also include a laboratory pathway of native grasses, shrubs, and trees that may be used as a “science classroom” for programs working to implement the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Future Farmers of America members from around the county will also be able to use the “science classroom” as a training site.

  • Humboldt County Office of Education, Eureka

Humboldt County Office of Education (HCOE) will develop a comprehensive farm to school program in after-school settings to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables and improve food and agricultural literacy for low-income students. Currently, their after-school students participate in HCOE’s Harvest of the Month (HOTM) culinary activities that feature local fruits and vegetables. This project will build on the HOTM framework by integrating hands-on gardening, experiential field trip opportunities, and local procurement for supper meals.

  • Los Molinos Unified School District, Los Molinos

Los Molinos Unified School District will develop relationships with industry partners and programs to build a new greenhouse and utilize the Horticulture Pathway. The district will develop cross-curricular lessons in various career pathways while Los Molinos High School will plan which fruits and vegetables will be grown in the new greenhouse. Students will be involved in a work-based learning environment that consists of preparing the soil, growing seedlings, supporting vegetation, crop management, crop production, and food preparation. A soil center, shade house, and a grape orchard will be developed and include crops such as carrots, lettuce, broccoli, tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, celery, and grapes. The future intent is to provide these vegetables and fruits to all three schools within the Los Molinos Unified School District.

 

Looking Ahead to a Fertile Future

As 2018 draws near, CDFA’s Office of Farm to Fork (the Office) can look back on all that happened in 2017 and know that there will be an even-stronger commitment to improving all Californians’ access to California-grown foods by working to reduce food insecurity and advancing farm-to-school relationships. We are pleased to share the details of this work through the release of the 2016 – 2017 Annual Report, a Redesigned Website, and a new Strategic Plan.

In 2017 the Office assumed leadership of the California Farm to School Network, an organization dedicated to increasing student access to food grown within our state and educating them about the production of that food. The network connects 4,300 stakeholders, including farmers and school districts, across the state with the collective goal of improving the quality of student meals and inspiring lifelong healthy eating habits.

The Office is also operating the California Nutrition Incentive Program (CNIP), which encourages the purchase and consumption of healthy, California-grown fresh fruits, vegetables, and nuts by nutrition benefit clients at certified farmers’ markets. The program is a win-win for farmers and low-income Californians. Since launching this past summer, CNIP has provided over $500,000 in fresh fruit and vegetables to low-income shoppers. More details can be found here.

Throughout 2017 the Office also continued its commitment to provide stakeholders and the public with reports, program profiles, and best practices. Materials are available on the newly redesigned www.CAFarmtoFork.com and are arranged by topic.

There is still a long road ahead but we are pleased with the roadmap created and invite you to explore our 2016 -2017 Annual Report, Strategic Plan, and redesigned website to learn more about the work and direction of the CDFA Office of Farm to Fork.

California Small Farm Conference turns 30

The 30th anniversary of the California Small Farm Conference, a gathering for small-scale farmers, ranchers, and farmers’ market managers, will be held Sunday, October 29 – Monday, October 30 at the Robert Cabral Agricultural Center in Stockton. The conference aims to promote the success and viability of small farming and ranching operations and certified farmers’ markets through short courses, tours, workshops and networking opportunities.

For more information and registration visit www.CaliforniaFarmConference.com