Tag Archives: Farm to School

Farm and Food News 2/17/12

More Than a Dozen New Farms Protected in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Agricultural Land Preservation Board announced an additional 1,470 acres of farmland protected across 14 farms. Since the program started in 1988, state, county and local governments have invested more than $1.1 billion to safeguard 459,007 acres on 4,243 farms.

Conference to Address Community Farms and Food in Hudson Valley

On February 25, farm and food partners in Columbia County, New York, will host the first Farming Our Future conference. The meeting will engage farmers, institutions and consumers in discussion about how to boost local food, farms and communities.

Sharing Stories of Michigan Farmers

Taste the Local Difference of Northwest Michigan has recently launched a new series of photos and stories about local farmers. New stories are added each week.

Small Farm Summit Coming to New York

The New York Small Farm Summit is fast approaching on February 29. The summit seeks to increase the visibility of small farmers, encourage local collaboration among regions and prioritize emerging opportunities to enhance small farms in New York and the Northeast.

Wisconsin Job Seekers Ask “Why Ag?”

A new online service is helping to match Wisconsin residents with appropriate jobs in agriculture. WhyAg.com features a skills-to-job match, as well as links to educational and training opportunities.

Farm-to-Institution Workshops in Virginia

Two workshops—February 28 and March 27—will address the challenges and opportunities involved in offering local, healthy food at Virginia hospitals, schools, nursing homes and corporate cafeterias.

USDA Launches New Beginning Farmer Website

USDA’s National Agricultural Library, in partnership with the American Farm Bureau Federation, recently launched Start2farm.gov, an online portal that provides assistance for beginning farmers and ranchers. The website includes links to training, financing, technical assistance and other support services, as well as successful case studies about new and beginning farmers and ranchers.

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Farm and Food News 2/10/12

A Farm and Food Education

At Pine Tree Elementary in Avon, Indiana, students are learning more than reading, writing and arithmetic. The school’s Agri-Lesson Director, Angie Williams, is helping to connect students more directly with farms and food through a monthly “Ag Day” and accompanying lessons on the important role that agriculture plays in the state.

Value-Added Grant Awardees Announced

On February 3, USDA announced the most recent recipients of its Value-Added Producer Grants. The total award amount of $40.2 million is the largest allotment for value-added producers in recent history.

Senate Agriculture Committee Announces Farm Bill Hearings

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, has announced the committee’s farm bill hearing schedule for February and March.

CSA Brings Farm-To-College Connection

Tufts University has partnered with Enterprise Farms of South Deerfield, Massachusetts, to pilot an on-campus Community Supported Agriculture program. Though students have joined local CSAs in the past, this is the first time the university has had a program specifically designed to reach students, faculty and staff.

Rally Around Farms and Food in New York

There is still time to register for New York’s No Farms No Food® Rally on February 15 at the State Capitol in Albany. Help us urge state leaders to strengthen the farm and food economy, protect farmland and the environment and increase access to nutritious food grown in New York.

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Farm and Food News 11/11/11

A place where veterans and nature connect

A restored ranch in Washington state is providing a retreat for nature-loving veterans with disabilities. Thanks to many grants and funding opportunities, including the Wetlands Reserve Program, the protected land is safeguarding wildlife habitat while also providing a place for veterans to enjoy the outdoors.

Addressing farmland loss in the Pacific Northwest

Washington’s Puget Sound region, like many other parts of the country, continues to face farmland loss due to development pressures. The work of organizations, like PCC Farmland Trust, made possible through farm bill programs, is helping to protect farms and farmland in the region.

Trajectory of farm bill negotiations remains unknown

Federal farm policy helps shape what is grown; where, when and how the land is farmed; and who benefits from this production. The 2012 Farm Bill process is being greatly impacted by the federal budget deficit reduction negotiations, the results of which have yet to be revealed.

Peanuts and pecans go up in price

When you are reaching for pecans or peanut butter to make your favorite holiday dessert, you may notice a sharp increase in price. Peanut growers in Georgia and Texas, and pecan farmers across the Southeast, have experienced a severe drought this past summer. However, Virginia peanut farmers are experiencing a robust harvest this year.

Georgia schools to test farm-to-school program

Three counties in Georgia have enlisted their school systems to serve a minimum of 75 percent Georgia-grown food to their students for a full week. The program will run in the spring and will include guest chef and farmer presentations, while seeking to increase healthy eating habits for elementary school students.

Finding community in a farm and food hub

In Worcester, Pennsylvania, farm and food advocates are working to create a food hub through the Longview Center for Agriculture. The organization’s model—which is finding ways to connect members of the community to the land—offers farmers the opportunity to produce food on small plots of land.

Central New York meetings to address agriculture plans

Farmland protection plans are the topic of discussion at a series of upcoming meetings in central New York. The towns of Nelson, Cazenovia and Lincoln are working together to prepare Agriculture & Farmland Protection Plans, guided by steering committees of local farmers, officials and other landowners.

Study finds water quality in Chesapeake Bay is improving

A new study released from Johns Hopkins University study “efforts to reduce the flow of fertilizers, animal waste and other pollutants” is benefitting the health of the Bay.

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A Vision. A Plan. A Healthy Future for Rhode Island Farms and Food.

Imagine a Rhode Island where:

  • Public officials and citizens alike understand the critical importance of farms and farmlands to the state’s economy, environment, public health, community character and livability.
  • Communities support and promote agriculture.
  • More, not less, farmland is under cultivation, meeting increased demand for Rhode Island-grown farm products.
  • Rhode Islanders at every income level have improved access to locally grown foods.
  • A sustainable and well-coordinated farm and food system encourages profitable farm businesses.

A new plan, produced by the Rhode Island Agricultural Partnership and facilitated by our New England office, seeks to make this vision a reality.

Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee at Agriculture Day.

Presented to Governor Lincoln Chafee and state lawmakers on May 12 at Agriculture Day, A Vision for Rhode Island Agriculture:Five Year Strategic Plan culminates a year of outreach to Rhode Island’s diverse agricultural community. More than 400 people participated in the planning process to identify opportunities and challenges for the state’s agricultural sector and to develop and prioritize goals and strategies.

We were happy to partner and help facilitate this planning process. A strong advocate of planning proactively for agriculture, we are engaged in planning at all levels of government. We have provided communities with tools and techniques to sustain local farms and farmland, as we’ve done with our guide Planning for Agriculture: A Guide for Connecticut Municipalities, and will be doing with an upcoming “Farm Tools” publication in Maine in collaboration with Maine Farmland Trust and the Mainewatch Institute. We have also helped the six New England state Chief Agricultural Officers identify ways to increase production and consumption of New England-grown farm and food products through a regional Farm and Food Security Initiative.

Thanks to the leadership of the Rhode Island Agricultural Partnership and the van Beuren Charitable Foundation, Rhode Islanders now have a plan that lays out how consumers, communities, lawmakers and state agencies can build a stronger and more resilient food system and agricultural economy. We are pleased to have been part of this process, and look forward to working with our Rhode Island partners and members in the months and years ahead on implementing its strategies, helping to make their vision a reality.

(L to R): Stu Nunnery, RI Center for Agricultural Promotion and Education; Janet Coit, Director, RI Department of Environmental Management; Barbara van Beuren, van Beuren Charitable Foundation; Ken Ayars, Chief, RIDEM Division of Agriculture; Cris Coffin and Ben Bowell, American Farmland Trust

Among the findings in the Rhode Island plan are:

  • Small farms—those with less than $5,000 in annual sales—constitute the majority of Rhode Island farms, but generate less than one percent of the state’s agricultural sales.
  • Rhode Island leads the nation in its percent of direct-to-consumer sales. Marketing food and farm products directly to consumers is helping to improve farm profits.
  • In the last 25 years, Rhode Island lost 22 percent of its agricultural land to development. Of the state’s remaining 40,000 acres of cropland and pasture, only 10,000 acres are permanently protected.
  • Public and private institutions are buying more Rhode Island-grown products. Every school district in Rhode Island now serves some Rhode Island-grown foods. The volume of Rhode Island- raised food consumed in schools increased 10-fold between 2006 and 2010.
  • Lack of processing, marketing and distribution equipment and infrastructure is limiting the ability of Rhode Island’s farms to meet the demand for their products.
  • Farms contribute at least $100 million annually to the state’s economy—and this is a conservative estimate. Every dollar in farm product sales generates an additional dollar in economic activity statewide.
  • Rhode Islanders spend less than one percent of their food dollars on Rhode Island-grown food.

These findings point to many challenges, but also to numerous opportunities to help sustain local farms and farmland and to a healthy future for Rhode Island just as we’ve all imagined.

About the Author: Cris Coffin is the New England Director for American Farmland Trust, where she leads efforts to promote farmland protection, farm viability and conservation practices in New England through research, outreach, advocacy and policy development at the local, state and national level.

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