Blog Archive

Friday, August 21, 2015

MI Farm to School News

Happy Friday!

This week I had the pleasure of touring Hillcrest Farms with the Springport Public Schools Food Service team.  The farmer of Hillcrest Farms, Mark Kastner, received a hoophouse loan through our Hoophouses for Health program, and will be "paying" it off this year in part through providing product to Springport Public Schools.  Mark has already had experience working with institutions, as he provides product to the Eaton Rapids medical clinic, however he is excited to be working now with schools. The Food Service Director at Springport, Jeff Brenner, brought his staff out to get an up close and personal look with the produce they'll be serving to their students this year!  See the attached picture of Mark showing the Springport staff his hoophouse filled with peppers (which, incidentally, is this season's Cultivate Michigan featured food!)

Mark grows an incredible amount of food on the land cultivated at Hillcrest Farms, and sticks to naturally grown, chemical free produce.  "We really like microbes," he told the staff, and farms in a manner that strives to support both soil and environmental health.  We peeked inside his four hoophouses – from one of which he's harvesting 300 lbs of tomatoes a week - and the staff were excited about the possibility of bringing the school kids out for a tour of the farm in early spring. To find more about Hillcrest Farms, check out their website, and stay tuned to get more updates about the partnership between Hillcrest Farms and Springport Public Schools as the year continues!


Fertile ground for farm to preschool - Many of you may have heard that the National Farm to School Network has hired Lacy Stephens for the new position of Farm to Preschool Associate.  Check out Lacy's blog outlining the importance of farm to early childhood programs
- Seed Change: Growing farm to school, state by state – learn about NFSN's Seed Change program, an initiative to rapidly scale up farm to school at the state level and strengthen partnerships for long-term sustainability - and the work happening in their newest addition to the program: Mississippi!

USA Today:

University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension:
School fresh fruit, vegetable program cuts childhood obesity rates, study finds – A study in Arkansas shows a program bringing fresh fruits and vegetables into schools lowers obesity rates and cuts down on spending in childhood obesity prevention

Health Affairs Blog:
- Building a successful farm to school movement: One person, one plot, one policy at a time – Spotlight on Chaffee County, Colorado demonstrating the importance of collaboration between policymakers, businesses, community stakeholders, and school staff in supporting successful farm to school work.


This webinar will discuss menu recipe writing in the scratch-cooking environment and creating menu cycles that feature farm to school products.

Profitability workshop for farmers – Sept 2, Lansing
The Profitability Boot Camp will focus on ways farmer veterans and beginning farmers are planning for success through improved financial readiness practices, including highlighting new available resources and tools.  RSVP by Friday, August 28 to Marty Gerencer at 

MHA Michigan Green Healthcare Conference – October 8 & 9, Traverse City
Interested in promoting sustainability initiatives in the healthcare sector, including incorporating farm to institution work? Register now for the MHA Michigan Green Healthcare Conference! Participants will have the opportunity to connect with leaders in the sustainability field through networking events and in-depth general, breakout and panel sessions.


The USDA has released a revision of their guide to local food procurement in schools, incorporating information about the new micro-purchasing threshold.  
- Did you know Michigan has its own, state-specific guide to purchasing Michigan products?

The USDA has announced the application opening of this year's Local Foods, Local Places technical assistance.

I am doing a collection of Farm to School stories from throughout the state to build up our database of amazing work going on throughout Michigan.  Do you  have a farm to school story, photo, or program that you want to highlight? Email them to me at – the more the merrier!

That's all for this week, folks!  I'll be attending the Tri-County Food Service Director meeting this coming Tuesday with some colleagues from the Michigan Farm to Institution Network & Cultivate Michigan team.  If you'll be there, be sure to say hi!

Be well,

Abby Harper | <— If you're interested in learning more about me!
Farm to School Specialist
Center for Regional Food Systems | Michigan State University
480 Wilson Rd | Rm 309 Natural Resources Building East Lansing, MI 48824
(p) 517.432.4525 (c) 857.600.6921

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.