Farm to School Regional Matchmaking Events
The NH Farm to School program organized eight regional matchmaking events this winter and spring. The meetings brought together school food service directors and farmers interested in selling their products to schools. The farmers spoke about their farms including their history, size, location and what they grow or raise. The school service directors then had a chance to ask questions about delivery, pricing, quantity and the best way to be in touch to find out what products will be available and when.
Meetings were held in Weare, Derry, Concord, Kearsarge area, Littleton, Plymouth, Conway and Keene. All who attended and those that wanted to but weren’t able were provided a contact list so when September rolls around they can plan menus that include local foods. Most schools will serve local vegetables in salads, in salad bars or as part of a reimbursable meal. Local protein options exist as well and include ground beef from grass fed pasture raised cattle, pork, and bison as well as fish and shrimp caught by our local NH fishermen and dairy products such as yogurt and pudding.
More of these matchmaking events will be planned for the 2011/2012 school year. The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) is expanding next year as well. New Hampshire schools will receive almost $2 million to buy extra fruits and vegetables for eligible elementary schools throughout the state. This is an opportunity to support local farmers by sourcing locally grown fruits and vegetables to be served through the FFVP.
Farm to School Hub Progress
Upper Valley Farm to School- Peter Allison, director of the Upper Valley Farm to School Network, organized several regional workshops which resulted in three NH schools instituting composting programs. Lebanon High School, Mt. Lebanon Elementary School and the Lyme School now all save food scraps that end up in a local farmer’s compost pile. For more information visit: http://www.uvfts.org/.
Stonewall Farm- Thus far, Stonewall Farm has distributed two $100 grants and three $500 grants to NH schools to do work establishing or improving their school garden programs.
Symonds School in Keene received a $500 grant to initiate an after-school garden club program and to maintain their raised beds. Walpole Village School in Walpole also received a $500 grant to build three raised garden beds on the school grounds and create curriculum activities for students. The Well School in Peterborough received a $100 grant for the construction of a three-compartment composting system to be used by all the children in the school. Monadnock Waldorf School in Keene received a $500 grant to upgrade their current raised beds and begin growing this spring. Wells Memorial School in Harrisville received a $100 grant to create two cold frames, extending the growing period of their gardening program.
There is still grant money available! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or http://www.stonewallfarm.org/Programs/School.
Does your school have a vegetable garden or would they like to start a garden? School gardens that include agriculture and nutrition education are springing up everywhere. School gardens have been shown to improve academic achievement, promote healthy lifestyles and encourage community and social development. They are outdoor classrooms that teach about agriculture and health, but also teach to education standards. The NH Farm to School website has many online resources available on how to start a garden as well as curriculum and school garden grant opportunities. NH resources include the Junior Master Gardener program, NH Ag in the Classroom, the Cornucopia Project in Hancock, the ELFS (Eco Learning Farm Stand) Program in Plymouth, and the Rockingham County Master Gardeners for Rockingham County Schools.
Fish to School
The idea of Fish to School started over a year ago at a seacoast Farm to School matchmaking event. Carolyn Eastman of Eastman's Fish and Paddy Anderson of Granite State Fish began making school connections by providing Gulf of Maine shrimp for a "Taste It Day" at Little Harbor School in Portsmouth. Soon thereafter, the Exeter school district began purchasing fish for their menu. This was preceded by a fish filleting class for the cafeteria staff.
Now fresh caught local fish is served regularly at Seabrook, Exeter, Hampton, Hampton Falls, and North Hampton schools. Recipes for fish cakes, baked fish with crumbs, fish chowder and fish tacos are provided to food service staff. The Eastmans are also freezing fish which allows fish to be available in bulk when needed by the schools and also brings costs down. Varieties of fish available vary with the time of year, but examples of some of the species you can expect are Cod, Pollock, Hake and Red Fish.
For more information contact: http://www.eastmansfish.com/
Cooking Up Change--Healthy Schools Campaign
The "Cooking Up Change" culinary competition challenges high school culinary arts students to create a healthy school lunch that meets current nutrition guidelines for school meals, is affordable to prepare, and utilizes some local ingredients. The NH Farm to School program would like to organize a similar competition here in New Hampshire this fall that will coincide with the School Nutrition Association meeting in October. If you are interested in helping to organize or sponsor the event, please contact: Stacey.Purslow@unh.edu.
In the spring of 2012, the 6th annual Farm to Cafeteria Conference will take place in Burlington, Vermont. It will highlight the top teams of the National "Cooking Up Change" contest whose recipes will be featured for a lunch during the conference.
For more information check out: http://www.healthyschoolscampaign.org/event/cookingupchange/2011/natl/
Highlights from the 2010 NH Farm to School Survey
Thanks to all who participated in the annual NH Farm to School Survey! We learned from the survey responses that more farmers are selling directly to schools and a wider variety of local foods are being served in cafeterias than in the past!
The most popular items purchased by schools were apples followed by tomatoes, lettuce, squash, cucumbers, carrots, potatoes and corn. Other items purchased included beef, eggs, fish and dairy. The average amount spent on local foods was $500 per food service director last fall.
Here at the NH Farm to School office at the UNH Sustainability Academy, we are making laminated posters for school cafeterias participating in Farm to School activities. The posters are meant to inform students about the program and that their cafeteria is purchasing locally grown or raised foods.
Local Food in Dover Public Schools
Hello Seacoast Community! Mary Brower of Brookford Farm in Rollinsford, NH, came to Dover High School to share yogurt and discuss local foods on April 7th. The focus of the partnership between farmers and chefs at Dover Public Schools is to promote healthful, local food with the students. The partnership began as a capstone project researched by Matt Benham, UNH EcoGastronomy Dual Major graduate, and is now progressing thanks to a team of five Nutritional Science Field Experience undergraduates at UNH.
The event was coordinated to promote a simple, organic food option and to provide educational materials that boast the health benefits of organics. The term organic was explained, so students could understand the lasting health and environmental impact of foods grown without the use of harmful fertilizers, pesticides, antibiotics or genetically modified organisms. Simply put, raw, local foods are better for you and the environment!
Brookford Farm provided five gallons of plain, low-fat organic yogurt. For those students who preferred a sweeter treat, a drizzle of local honey was provided as a natural sweetener. Mary also brought pamphlets, posters, and a variety of flours to show the students the diversity of products made on the farm.
The high school students were very interactive, as they were able to taste the delicious yogurt and learn about the farm by chatting with Mary and looking at her pictures. By the end of lunch, the bucket of yogurt was nearly gone!
The UNH students gathered feedback on the event through a survey they distributed during the tasting. The survey responses were quite positive and will provide needed information as to whether or not Brookford Farm yogurt will be added to Dover High School’s yogurt bar. Either way, the event gave our community and high school students a taste of the local food scene. For more information visit Brookford Farm's website at www.Brookfordfarm.com or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Brookford-Farm/142997449050488
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NH Farm to School Program
University of New Hampshire
Durham, NH 03824