Celebrating Farm to School milestones and achievements, large or small, is a great way to build awareness, support and excitement about your new or ongoing program. All-out, school-wide celebrations might involve farmer visits, displays and demonstrations. But, not all celebrations have to be large; smaller celebrations are also valuable and more easily integrated into day-to-day school life. For example, celebrate reaching your goal of purchasing x number of crates of local apples with an apple tasting event. Acknowledge farmers who sell local products or food service professionals who prepare them, by displaying their photos on cafeteria serving lines or school message boards. Hold a contest to name a new recipe featuring local foods, or ask a class to “market” it. The possibilities are endless.
The following steps and resources should help in planning celebrations.
Learn about Farm to School Celebrations
Celebrate Farm to School Month, by the National Farm to School Network, suggests ideas and resources for teachers, food service professionals, families, farmers and organizations and businesses who want to celebrate Farm to School. Find additional resources, including a communication tool kit and posters at their website. October is National Farm to School month.
Fall is an especially wonderful season to celebrate Farm to School in New York State, a season when a bounty of fresh, local food is available. Check out harvest seasons for local fruits and vegetables on the NYS Fruit and Vegetable Harvest Calendar by New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets and Cornell Cooperative Extension’s My(Northeast)Plate.
Collaborate with Others
For large celebrations, bring together school teachers, administrators and custodians, as well as parents, community members, and local Cornell Cooperative Extension professionals who may be interested in planning and being a part of the celebration.
Assess Opportunities and Plan celebrations
Farm to You Fest! (formerly New York Harvest for New York Kids), supported by the New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets Farm to School Program, New York State Education Department Child Nutrition Program and New York Farm to School Coordinating Committee, is a week-long celebration of local food and agriculture held each fall. The website provides celebration ideas and resources, and describes past celebrations. It is lots of fun to get involved in this statewide celebration.
NY Agriculture in the Classroom sponsors two programs each spring, Agriculture Literacy Week and I Love NY Agricultural Contest, that celebrate Farm to School efforts by encouraging students to learn about and recognize New York agriculture.
Celebrate Farm to School by Cornell Farm to School Outreach suggests ways that food service directors, teachers and Cooperative Extension professionals can celebrate.