The Fayetteville school district was recently awarded a Sustainable Community Innovation Grant from the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program for the Farm to School initiative, school officials announced this week.
The Sustainable Community Innovation Grants are jointly administered by Southern SARE and the Southern Rural Development Center. Any activities that will increase knowledge, build capacity, and make connections between farms and rural communities to the benefit of people who live in those communities are eligible for the grant. Project maximums are $10,000 for up to two years of activities.
The University of Arkansas Horticulture Department received the grant last year to work with Fayetteville Public Schools creating a model Farm to School program using community partnerships. The school district applied this fall as the grant lead to continue building a sustainable Farm to School program with program partners the University of Arkansas, Apple Seeds, Inc., Feed Fayetteville, and the Boys and Girls Club.
The funding will support educational programming, including summer farm field trips in coordination with the Owl Creek summer lunch program, farmer training, and community outreach.
During summer 2012, the district purchased 1885 pounds of produce and 300 pounds of ground beef locally for the free lunch program at Owl Creek. Nearly 200 students also participated in farm tours, farmers market visits, and healthy snack classes utilizing local produce donated from The Farm at Cobblestone.
University of Arkansas Horticulture Department and the school district are jointly hosting a Farm to School workshop for regional child nutrition staff in late January to share experiences and lessons learned from the summer 2012 lunch program and discuss ways to create sustainable Farm to School programs.