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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

GROWING FOOD FOR DETROIT'S STUDENTS: A SPOTLIGHT ON DREW FARM

Sharing a good news story coming out of Detroit Public Schools Community District, 10 Cents a Meal grantee and farm to school powerhouse celebrating 10 years of progressive farm to school work here in Michigan.

Check out the reference to the new Garden and Donated Produce Guide that helps 10 Cents a Meal grantees invoice products from gardens such as school gardens and those run by 4-H or Future Farmers of America, school farms, and other programs that may be connected to grantees.

GROWING FOOD FOR DETROIT'S STUDENTS: A SPOTLIGHT ON DREW FARM

For Elvin Owensby, it's the little things that count, like looking out at the farm he helped build and beautify— a farm that was built upon a school district's decision to swap baseball fields for fields of vegetables.

Photo: Drew Farm sign, artwork by Linzell Rice

Drew Farm, the Detroit Public Community School District's (DPSCD) production-focused farm operating on the grounds of the Charles R. Drew Transition Center, is the perfect complement to Michigan's pioneering 10 Cents a Meal for Michigan's Kids & Farms program. 10 Cents a Meal is a state-funded program that provides matching funds for schools and non-school sponsors of USDA child nutrition programs to purchase fruits, vegetables, and dry beans from the state's growers. The legislature, which passed funding for the now $4.5 million program for FY 2022, expects schools to serve their kids Michigan-grown food, educate them about it, and even promote Michigan-grown food within their communities. These are all priorities that DPSCD, a 10 Cents a Meal grantee, has had since the inception of its farm to school initiatives.

DPSCD began its farm to school initiatives with the Detroit School Garden Collaborative in 2012 and started out with just two school gardens— there are now almost 90 gardens across the district that serve as learning labs for students to connect with nature and food. This year Drew Farm is celebrating its 10th anniversary, and after a decade of work the farm has grown from one hoophouse to the current six hoophouses plus one and a half acres of outdoor growing space. The farm also provides field trip opportunities for students to learn more about how food grows. 

In the classroom, partners like FoodCorps Michigan service members and the Physical Education and Nutrition Working Together (PE-Nut) program support its food and nutrition education activities. "If students don't want the food, we're kind of spinning our wheels. So those educational initiatives really encourage students to pick those healthy options," said farm to school program supervisor Matt Hargis.

Owensby, the farm manager, spent years working for the district as head custodian and came out of retirement to first volunteer at Drew Farm before then being hired on as one of the original crew members—that was ten years ago. 

And he's not the only longstanding staff member at Drew Farm. 

Roxanne Brown, Sarita Steele, and Matt Hargis have been with the operation for nine years, and Colleen Walker for eight years.  

    Photo: Office of School Nutrition Farm to School staff crunching into some Michigan apples to celebrate the Great Lakes Apple crunch in October 2021.     

Owensby comes from a farming background having grown up in a rural community in Washtenaw County, and Hargis studied agriculture and sustainability in college. However, most of the staff did not have agricultural experience prior to working for the district's Office of School Nutrition's farm to school program. They instead have honed their skills over the years working and learning together. "The special part is showing what normal, everyday, special people can accomplish when they work together—our program thrives on our passion. You take away the people and there is nothing," Hargis said of the dedicated staff.

One of the first things you notice when you visit the farm is the large yellow letters on the hill at the farside of the farm that spell out "Drew Farm" and welcome you. The long hoop houses that line the sides of the farm and rows of crops clue you in to where you are— a working farm. What sets Drew Farm apart from other farm to school initiatives is its heavy focus on production. With less than a dozen staff operating the farm, they manage to grow and process thousands of pounds of produce. The 2021 season was the most productive season the farm has yet seen, with 24,000 pounds of produce harvested, which included everything from tomatoes and salad greens, to garlic, and even sweet potatoes.

That produce makes its way to the district's kitchens and ends up on students' lunch trays. Chef Kevin Frank, the Assistant Director of Catering and Hospitality, utilizes seasonal menus that incorporate the produce grown at Drew Farm. "The students deserve the best we can give, and there is nothing better than produce we picked that week," Hargis said. In addition to using the produce grown at Drew Farm, the district also incorporates local purchasing to source other Michigan-grown food and has been a 10 Cents a Meal grantee since the program expanded statewide in 2020. 

DPSCD's presence as a 10 Cents a Meal grantee has also inspired a wonderful new opportunity for all grantees and garden programs around the state. Impressed by the amount of produce Drew Farm produces for district meals, the Michigan Department of Education recently introduced a new pricing tool that helps 10 Cents a Meal grantees like DPSCD invoice products from gardens such as school gardens and those run by 4-H or Future Farmers of America, school farms, and other programs that may be connected to grantees. 

The Garden and Donated Produce Guide has national and state-specific pricing information on a per-pound basis for over 40 of the most commonly used fruits and vegetables that grantees serve. Using this information, grantees can assign a value to the produce they grow or that farms have donated.

This means 10 Cents a Meal grantees can use their grants to actually purchase from on-site gardens and help farm to school programs become more sustainable over time. Such gardens are places that offer opportunities for engaging in garden-based educational activities that get children excited about trying foods. They are also places that can build youth leadership and community involvement.

Photo: Elvin Owensby, farm manager at Drew Farm

Witnessing the connection students make with their food holds a special place in Mr. Owensby's heart— right up there with farming itself. 

"I just love to be with the kids and see them smile, and see them learning. A lot of kids don't know where a tomato come from, ain't know where a pepper come from," he says as he looks out at those yellow letters on the hill.

Mr. Owensby, in turn, is as important to the history and life of Drew Farm as those big yellow letters. 

At nearly 80, his most important role is to "encourage, motivate, and supervise the staff," said Hargis. "One of the strengths of our team is our family dynamic, and he fits that patriarch—the grandfather, father figure."

Mr. Elvin Owensby, Detroit's very own grandfather of school-grown produce, working with his staff to bring fresh food, beauty, and heart to students in the Motor City.

Melanie Wong MA, RDN Farm to ECE Specialist/Program Communications Manager

Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities

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MIFARMTOSCHOOL is a listserv that links farm-to-school stakeholders and practitioners in Michigan, from school food service directors and school administrators to growers and distributors. Content posted to MIFARMTOSCHOOL does not necessarily reflect the views of Michigan State University or the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Job in Petoskey, MI: Farm to Institution Specialist

Do you know someone who would be a great fit to join the Groundwork Food and Farming team? Send them our way!

FARM TO INSTITUTION SPECIALIST

Deadline to apply: 11:59pm on Friday July 1st, 2022

Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities is seeking a detail-oriented, creative individual to join our Food and Farming team. The Farm to Institution Specialist will have strong outreach, organizing, leadership and communication skills, and be eager to help support the advancement of the local food & farming economy in northern Michigan, specifically, in Antrim, Charlevoix, and Emmet counties, as well as the surrounding area.

The ideal candidate will be excited about Groundwork's mission and is a flexible, innovative, and engaging individual who is at home in business, community, and governmental settings. We seek someone who understands the economic, social, and policy basics of farm to school and food access programs; is experienced in how schools and kitchens operate; and has a strong passion for local food and farming issues, protecting our environment, and building resilient communities.

The position is full time, 40 hours per week, and will report to the Food and Farming Program Director.

The Farm to Institution Specialist will be responsible for, but not limited to, the following:

  • Work with the food and farming program director and an advisory committee to identify and advance key local food and farming initiatives in the Northern Farms Foodshed;
  • Support a burgeoning farm to school movement through engagement with local farmers, school administrators, intermediate school district staff, teachers, parents and other stakeholders;
  • Oversee the local FoodCorps program, including supporting additional schools in their efforts to source local food for their school lunch programs, integrating farm to school activities with curriculum, and supporting school gardens;
  • Support regional food pantries in their efforts to offer more healthful, local food to all members of our community;
  • And, serve as a community liaison by working collaboratively with other individuals and organizations advancing the local food and farming economy throughout the Northern Farms Foodshed. 

For Professional Requirements, Personal Qualifications, Compensation, Benefits and Application Procedure, visit Groundwork's Careers page.


--
*My working hours may not be your working hours. Please do not feel the need to respond outside of your working hours.*

JEN SCHAAP  |  Food and Farming Director
Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities

P    231-941-6584 x708
A  313 Howard St, Unit B  |  Petoskey, MI 49770

pronouns: she/her/hers

The Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities is a Traverse City based non-profit. Our work is member-funded and community-driven. Protect what you love. Become a member of Groundwork today.
MIFARMTOSCHOOL is a listserv that links farm-to-school stakeholders and practitioners in Michigan, from school food service directors and school administrators to growers and distributors. Content posted to MIFARMTOSCHOOL does not necessarily reflect the views of Michigan State University or the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems.

Friday, June 24, 2022

MIFFS is hiring!

MIFFS is HIRING!!!! Come join our fabulous team as our new Field Organizer!

MIFFS is seeking a passionate, organized, and self-directed individual to fill the Field Organizer position. This person will have a combination of experience and knowledge in community organizing, food systems, and/or sustainable agriculture policy, and is motivated to learn more. This position is responsible for establishing a grassroots and grasstops action network across Michigan leading up to the 2023 Farm Bill. The Organizer will lead critical strategies in Michigan using an environmental and equity lens to advance policy priorities that can impact climate change mitigation, foster racial equity, and shape more resilient food systems.

Application deadline: July 31, 2022
Desired start date: August 2022
Status: Full-time; 2-year contract
Salary: Starting at $50,000
Location: Remote, must be based in Michigan or able to travel around Michigan regularly.

Position description attached and at https://bit.ly/miffsfieldorganizer

MIFARMTOSCHOOL is a listserv that links farm-to-school stakeholders and practitioners in Michigan, from school food service directors and school administrators to growers and distributors. Content posted to MIFARMTOSCHOOL does not necessarily reflect the views of Michigan State University or the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Funding Opportunity through Newman's Own Foundation

Hello,


This may be of use to you or to those in your network, please spread the word! We would like to let you know about an exciting grant opportunity being offered by the Newman's Own Foundation that will support organizations working on behalf of their communities and states toward systemic solutions in schools in the areas of food education, local procurement, school nutrition leadership development, educator engagement, ensuring adequate time to eat, supporting school kitchen infrastructure and scratch cooking, and increasing access to school meals. 


Grants will support 501(c)(3) organizations (or those with fiscal sponsors) in various stages of their systems change work.  Grant review criteria will prioritize projects and organizations that are BIMPOC-led (Black, Indigenous, Multiracial, and People of Color) and honor the grassroots wisdom and expertise of local communities. 


The grant will focus on work based in the following 13 states and the District of Columbia: Arkansas, California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Georgia, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Oregon.   


Examples of projects to be funded may include:


  • Coalition building and goal-setting: capacity to effectively build and facilitate a network of organizations working toward a common set of goals

  • Case studies and research: gathering examples of successful programs, policies, and factors that should be elevated as proof points to scale and replicate

  • Raising awareness through communications campaigns: all aspects of communications campaigns to raise awareness and engage key target audiences in pursuit of systems change will be considered including message testing, material development, and PR

  • State policy and advocacy work: educating and building relationships with legislators to ultimately pass policies that support and resource this work (note: direct lobbying is ineligible for funding)

  • Annual convening and/or training: resources to cover in-person convenings with the goal of strategic planning, goal setting, and training will be considered as a key foundational activity of this work


The timeline, funding details, and application information can all be found on the Newman's Own Foundation website at this link.  


As a partner and grantee of Newman's Own Foundation, FoodCorps has been supporting the development of this grant opportunity by offering the Newman's team equity and strategic support.  One of our staff will participate in the review of applications alongside folx from Newman's Own Foundation and two independent reviewers. 


If you would like to speak with someone at FoodCorps about project or initiative eligibility, please reach out to Impact Partnerships Director, Beth Zschau at beth.zschau@foodcorps.org.  If you have questions about how to apply or need technical assistance, please contact the Newman's team at info@newmansownfoundation.org


If this doesn't feel like a fit for your work but you know another organization that might be a fit, please feel free to share with your networks and partners. 


Thank you,


Seema

--
Seema Jolly 
| FoodCorps
Michigan Program Manager | she/her
FoodCorps.org
Cell: 269.352.6224
MIFARMTOSCHOOL is a listserv that links farm-to-school stakeholders and practitioners in Michigan, from school food service directors and school administrators to growers and distributors. Content posted to MIFARMTOSCHOOL does not necessarily reflect the views of Michigan State University or the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

FW: Racial Equity in Farm to School Training Series

Greetings,

Please see more information below about an upcoming Racial Equity in Farm to School Training offered by the Farm to School Coalition of North Carolina and North Carolina State University's Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) Farm to School Initiative. The sessions start next week, so do take a look and register if you're interested!

 

Best,

 

Colleen Matts

(she, her, hers)

Director, Farm to Institution Programs

Coordinator, Michigan Farm to Institution Network

Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems

matts@msu.edu | 517.432.0310

foodsystems.msu.edu | cultivatemichigan.org | mifarmtoschool.msu.edu

 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems team members are primarily working remotely. Our response time may be a bit slower than normal. 

 

 

From: 'Kirsten Blackburn' via NFSN Partners <partners@farmtoschool.org>
Date: Friday, June 3, 2022 at 8:43 AM
Subject: Racial Equity in Farm to School Training Series

Good morning, 

Please share across your networks.  

The Farm to School Coalition of NC and CEFS Farm to School Initiative are hosting a FREE five-session training series on Racial Equity in Farm to School. We hope you will join us for this training that is sure to be filled with important information, compelling discussions, and accessible action items.

   Register here: Racial Equity in Farm to School

This free, 120 min workshop series will be led by a team from we are. The series has been structured to allow for extended learning for past attendees while remaining accessible for new participants. Session dates are below and every session will take place from 3:00-5:00pm ET, virtually. Join us!

Session Dates (register for one or all!):
June 21, 2022 (Implicit Bias)
July 19, 2022 (Language Analysis & Speak Up)
August 30, 2022 (History and Policy) 
September 20, 2022 (Curriculum and School Meals)
October 25, 2022 (Community Praxis Sharing in Farm to School)

Key Objectives: 

  • Understand how biases contribute to systemic harm
  • Make connections between language and power
  • Apply a racial equity lens to farm to school practices

 

For questions, contact Kirsten Blackburn, kblackb@ncsu.edu.

 

Warmly, 

 

Kirsten Blackburn | she/they (why pronouns?

Center For Environmental Farming

Farm to School Outreach Coordinator

Living and learning on land originally stewarded by the Lumbee Tribe and Shakori Tribe

 

** Please know that I honor and respect boundaries around personal time, well-being, caretaking, and rest. Should you receive correspondence from me during a time that you're engaging in any of the above, please protect your time and wait to respond until you're working next or in front of a computer. Prioritize joy when and where you can** ~ Adapted from Dr. Jennifer A. King

 

Friday, June 3, 2022

FoodCorps - Help us find Service Members for the '22-'23 year, receive $250 as a thank you!

Hello!

FoodCorps partners with schools and communities to nourish kids' health, education, and sense of belonging. Every year we have a cohort of FoodCorps AmeriCorps Service Members who teach kids about nourishing food and help schools become healthier places for them to learn and grow (e.g. gardening/cooking lessons in schools, cafeteria taste tests to highlight local produce). We also have a cohort of service members who will work with school nutrition directors in supporting districtwide food systems change. We are recruiting for our next year (Aug '22-July '23) and we're looking for service members who are 18+, passionate about working towards a more just food system and excited to work with kids in schools! I've attached the position description to this email.
In exchange for 1,700 hours service, Service Members receive:

• Up to $27,500 living stipend, paid bi-weekly. • $6,495 AmeriCorps Segal Education Award, upon successful completion of your term of service • Health insurance • Partial childcare reimbursement, if you qualify • Student loan forbearance, if you qualify • Training, mentorship, and professional development opportunities


In Michigan, we'll be working near Alpena, Detroit and Metro Detroit, Flint, and the Petoskey regions. Please help spread the word to folks who would be a good fit to serve and, as much as possible, we'd love to have Michiganders serving in our Michigan schools. 


If you know anyone who may be a good fit to serve next year, please encourage them to apply to be a Service Member.


We have a "referral program" where if YOU refer an applicant who is accepted to FoodCorps and serves at least 90+ days, you will receive $250 as a thank you for the referral. Here is how the referral process works:
  • For each candidate you refer to the FoodCorps service member position that's selected and remains in service for at least 90 days, you'll receive $250. You can expect this gift after the 90 day period (~November-December 2022). 

  • The application will ask candidates if they were referred by anyone. Please let your referrals know to include your name and contact information when they complete their application. Otherwise, we won't know who to thank or to connect the referral back to you! 


Thank you, feel free to reach out with any questions!

Best,
Seema
--
Seema Jolly 
| FoodCorps
Michigan Program Manager | she/her
FoodCorps.org
Cell: 269.352.6224
MIFARMTOSCHOOL is a listserv that links farm-to-school stakeholders and practitioners in Michigan, from school food service directors and school administrators to growers and distributors. Content posted to MIFARMTOSCHOOL does not necessarily reflect the views of Michigan State University or the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems.

Friday, May 6, 2022

Tricky farm law questions? Farm Commons is here for you.

Hi Folks,

As agricultural professionals, you shape the future of farming. You empower your community by responding to real-life issues in real-time and providing practical advice and resources because improving lives is not just what you do; it's who you are.

But sometimes, even the most knowledgeable and understanding agricultural professional needs support. This spring, as you respond to the ongoing HPAI outbreak, enduring pandemic crises, and supply-chain issues, are farmers and ranchers in your community asking you tough legal questions? Not sure how to respond?

Don't worry-- find solutions, reassurance, and community at Farm Commons.

This June, learn how to help your producers avoid legal stress, and join your peers on Wednesday, June 1, 2022, for Guiding Resilience – our popular, five-week, highly-interactive, in-depth legal workshop designed specifically for you as an agricultural professional.

Guiding Resilience will teach you the ten best legal practices you can share with producers without overstepping due bounds. Along the way, you'll be able to network with fellow service providers and educators to keep each other on track.

In the past year, over 100 agricultural and service providers have taken Guiding Resilience, and here is what your peers are saying:

"This was one of the best built and most clearly delivered workshops I've ever attended. It gave me immediately applicable tools and also helped me consider ways that I want to stretch and grow to improve my knowledge toolkit and instincts as a farm support provider."

"Thank you for hosting the Guiding Resilience course. It has truly been a valuable class. You have done a great job at keeping virtual (adult) education exciting, engaging, and easy to follow. I have especially enjoyed the way you walk through scenarios to keep us analytical and working through problems/solutions." 

Interested? Limited spots are available, so be sure to register here todayThis workshop is free for Institutional Members. Not a member yet? Sign up hereBIPOC Scholarships are also available. And don't forget - with membership, you will also have access to our robust library of resources, get answers to your individual questions on the Commons, and receive discounts on memberships for the producers you work with and other free workshops.

Thank you for your time. We can't wait to meet you. 

-Rachel

MIFARMTOSCHOOL is a listserv that links farm-to-school stakeholders and practitioners in Michigan, from school food service directors and school administrators to growers and distributors. Content posted to MIFARMTOSCHOOL does not necessarily reflect the views of Michigan State University or the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems.