Blog Archive

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

FW: USDA Farm to School E-letter - December 11, 2012

Hi all,

I'm passing along the latest USDA Farm to School E-letter, which includes details on two webinars offered this week that may be of interest. For those of you who applied for or are interested in applying for USDA Farm to School Grants, a webinar on "Trends in Successful USDA Farm to School Grant Applications" will be held today at 1 pm Eastern. Another webinar will be offered on Thursday, December 13th focusing on school gardens. See details below!




Colleen Matts

Farm to Institution Specialist

Center for Regional Food Systems | Michigan State University

480 Wilson Rd | Rm 303 Natural Resources Building | East Lansing, MI 48824

(p) 517.432.0310 |


From: USDA Food and Nutrition Service []
Sent: Tuesday, December 11, 2012 10:01 AM
To: Matts, Colleen
Subject: USDA Farm to School E-letter - December 11, 2012


USDA Farm to School E-letter
December 11, 2012 | Volume 1, Issue 14


Communities Warm Up to Winter Markets
This year, the National Farmers Market Directory saw a 52 percent spike in winter listings. On December 6, Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan said, "Each winter farmers market offers additional opportunities for farmers to generate income year round. These investments are a win-win. Farmers have more stability, and consumers have a reliable supply of local food, regardless of the season."

Cost effective options, such as hoop houses and eco-friendly greenhouse energy use, have helped many small and mid-sized farmers expand their growing season while keeping overhead costs down. Many local markets also launch targeted marketing campaigns to raise community awareness of the extended farmers' market season and product offerings. A recent USDA Blog post, highlights a few producers who have increased their growing capacity with USDA grants for season extension technologies.

Farmers' markets offer a great way to meet producers in your community and learn what products are available in the winter season. If you are a school food service director or teacher, visiting a local market may spur ideas for your harvest of the month program or provide a networking opportunity that leads to a future farm field trip for students at your school. As outlined in the recently published Geographic Preference Q&As – Part II, school food authorities may also use farmers' markets to obtain price quotes when using the informal procurement method. Click here to check out the National Farmers Market Directory's searchable database of over 7,800 markets!


Trends in Successful USDA Farm to School Grant Applications ~ December 11
During the first round of the USDA Farm to School Grant Program, hundreds of applicants across the country competed for a limited amount of funding. The overwhelming interest in this inaugural program excited us, and we are already looking forward to next year's applications. To aid applicants in increasing the competitiveness of future submissions, we will be hosting a webinar today, December 11, at 1:00 pm EST to summarize trends observed in successful USDA Farm to School Grant applications. It is not necessary to RSVP for this event; simply use the dial-in instructions and live link below. For questions about the webinar, contact Laura Brown.

Live link to the webinar:
Meeting ID: 7DHD2D
Conference line: 888-790-1895
Passcode: 2750176

Best Practices in Starting and Sustaining a School Garden ~ December 13
Garden-based learning offers a host of benefits, from increasing children's willingness to eat fresh vegetables, to improving their attention spans. On December 13 at 12:00 pm EST, join USDA's People's Garden initiative for a webinar about  how to incorporate gardens into schools, make garden projects successful and sustainable, and encourage participation from others in your community. Click here to register.


New Jersey School Gardens Offer More than Just Produce
New Jersey Farm to School Network and Edible Jersey Magazine recently awarded their inaugural School Garden of the Year Award to three projects for innovative efforts to connect their school gardens to the cafeteria, curriculum, and community. How fitting that schools in the Garden State are host to a number of exemplary school gardens!

The garden co-cultivated by William H. Ross Elementary School and Eugene A. Tighe Middle School in Margate City, NJ came in first place. The schools' Garden Gourmet tasting program allows students to sample the fresh fruits and vegetables harvested from the garden—and the garden opportunities don't end at lunch! At Ross Elementary, students digitally photograph vegetable beds and write multiplication and division word problems based on the garden layout. These math word problems are then solved by fourth grade students. More >

Stay up-to-date on all the latest USDA news and stories on the USDA Blog!

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