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Virginia Farm-to-School Week: Growing from the Grassroots

Matt Benson of the Virginia Cooperative Extension presents on Virginia's Farm to School program that sourced local foods for one week statewide. Presented during the workshop : 3 Places, 3 Approaches: Farm to School Weeks in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC

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Virginia Farm-to-School Week: Growing from the Grassroots

  1. 1. Virginia Farm-to-School Week: Farm to School Growing from Grassroots Matt Benson
  2. 2. 2 Special Thanks S i l Th k • Virginia Department of Agric lt re Leanne DuBois Agriculture- D Bois • Virginia Department of Education- g p Catherine Digilio-Grimes • Virginia Farm to School Work Group Farm-to-School • Virginia Food System Council- 501c3 • National Farm-t0-School Network • USDA- Jimmy Nguyen
  3. 3. 3 The Ch ll Th Challenge The O Th Opportunity i • Over 92% of farms gross • VA schools currently spend more than $6 million annually on < $100,000 fresh produce • 1% of total Ag sales are • VA FFVP funding will increase direct marketing to $2.4 million for the 2010-2011 school year y • Organic Ag: 12% => ~91% • If $0.25 a day per student lunch were devoted to purchasing p g • Average age of farmer= 58 locally grown Virginia farm years old products, more than $30.7 million would be reinvested annually in Virginia’s farm • Over 400 years of economy and rural communities agricultural ‘tradition’
  4. 4. 4 Background & History B k d Hi • Virginia Farm to School authorized in 2007 legislation Farm-to-School forming task force • Co-led by Department of Agriculture and Department of Education with multiple partners • No dedicated funding for “ VA F-2-S” ▫ Duties within roles ▫ Cooperative Extension- ‘capacity builder’ • Ed Education, pilot projects, work group, and P ti il t j t k d Programs
  5. 5. 5 First Fi steps… W k G Work Group • Convened in July 2009 • Representatives from public, private and non- profit / community-based organizations • Multidisciplinary, focused on F-2-C • Communication, awareness building, leadership • 2009 Farm-to-School Week first activity
  6. 6. 6 2009 W k Week • 2nd week of November • Every region of Virginia p y g g participated p • ~35 divisions participated • Support from public, private and CBOs- local, regional and state • Sourced over 36 different foods- dairy, fruits, veggies and meats… d t ▫ Special emphasis on Virginia apples
  7. 7. 7 2009 Week • Participation varied… ▫ 1 product, 1 meal, 1 day, several days, several foods, ll f d all week k • Worked with community food enterprises ▫ Local Food Hub- Charlottesville ▫ Fall Line Farms Online Market- Richmond Market • Included farmer visits to schools and classroom learning activities
  8. 8. 8 Legislative Success L i l i S • Found a key ally- House Delegate Ed Scott • National policy review- Discovered Maryland home grown lunch bill • Built a coalition of private, public and CBOs • Joint Resolution (‘10)– HJ95 Officially establishing VA Farm-to-School Week Farm to School ▫ HB 398 (Lohr)
  9. 9. 9 Best Practices • Plan early • Use existing communication networks g • Form interdisciplinary partnerships • Engage audiences across the region or state • Small steps are good steps • Communicate w/ local stakeholders ▫ Invite decision-makers to events
  10. 10. 10 Best Practices • U ili volunteers Utilize l • Find a local champion • Do not use a black box approach ▫ Build into existing food system projects- farmers markets, BF BL campaigns, new business development • Evaluate and celebrate We have resources to share: ▫ Media releases, “Getting Started” pub, policy template
  11. 11. 11 Future Steps F S • Official 2010 Farm to School Week Farm-to-School • Infrastructure development- production food development production, hubs, processing, distribution • School and community gardening • Assessment: ▫ Week ▫ Program
  12. 12. 12 Successes S • PBS Special- America's Heartland i l i ' l d • USDA Tactical T T ti l Team visit- H i i it Harrisonburg City b Cit Public School System • Silver Diner Restaurant Program • Diverse collaboration