Building a Model Farm to School Program using Community Partnerships

Final Report for CS11-085

Project Type: Sustainable Community Innovation
Funds awarded in 2011: $10,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2012
Region: Southern
State: Arkansas
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Curt Rom
University of Arkansas
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Project Information


The University of Arkansas and Fayetteville Public Schools proposed to develop a successful Farm to School (F2S) model program in Fayetteville, Arkansas through community partnerships with Apple Seeds Inc., a local non-profit focusing on nutrition education, Feed Fayetteville, a local non-profit dedicated to increasing awareness of and alleviating hunger through local resources, and KUAF, the local NPR radio affiliate. The project identified obstacles to F2S in Northwest Arkansas, identified growers to produce for FPS and delivered nutrition education to FPS students with classroom activities and field trips to the local farmers’ market and a local farm. Community outreach occured through press releases, newspaper stories, a series of stories on KUAF’s Ozarks at Large program, partner newsletters, websites and Facebook sites. In addition, local and state schools were reached through a workshop to extend project outcomes and provide direction on how schools can implement a F2S at their schools.

Project Objectives:
  • 1)Procure locally grown produce for Fayetteville Public Schools
    a.Identify growers interested in producing for Farm to School
    b.Identifying produce items that can be supplied to meet the school's needs and
    c.Assist growers in developing a plan to address production, handling, food safety, delivery and logistical, and economic associated with identified produce.

    2)Deliver a comprehensive nutrition education program with classroom interactions, farmer visits to the classroom and field trips to the farmers' market and a local farm.

    3)Identify and document challenges and solutions associated with establishing a farm to school program in NWA.


Participation Summary

Educational & Outreach Activities

Participation Summary:

Education/outreach description:

FPS launched the following story, highlighting the 2012 summer F2S program,

NPR affiliate KUAF’s ‘Ozarks at Large’ radio magazine program:

FPS recently made the following video about their F2S program. All of the community organizations involved in this project are represented in the video. It was viewed at the Arkansas state child nutrition directors’ conference where all Arkansas school districts were represented. (click below the banner photo)

A poster was displayed at the SSAWG annual conference, January 2013.

A poster was displayed at the American Society of Horticultural Sciences, July 2013,

Workshop promotion to share project results with other schools,

Local online newspaper:

Numerous Facebook posts on project partner pages:,

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

•The University of Arkansas identified 5 growers (4 produce, 1 beef farmer) interested in growing for the Summer Lunch Program for the Owl Creek School (elementary) in the Fayetteville Public School District.

•UA, FPS and the growers developed a list of produce that could be grown, discussed production plans, and developed a delivery schedule.

•Growers made weekly deliveries from June 4 to Aug 13, 2012.

•Local foods were incorporated into the lunches of 300-400 meals/day from June 1 – Aug 20, 2012 reaching approximately 500 different students.

•This grant laid the groundwork for institutionalizing the F2S program at FPS. Protocols and agreements were developed to maintain a standardized level of produce quality, delivery protocols, payment system, and food safety on the farm checklist.

•Apple Seeds, Inc., delivered a nutrition education program where 109 students participated in educational and activity field trips to two local F2S farms and the farmers market, and 60 students participated in garden club. Students learned various aspects of farm life and local fresh produce production. They also were taught how to make healthy snacks from local produce and were provided with take home recipes to help them recreate that snack at home with their families.

•Feed Fayetteville organized weekly 'Lunch buddies' for eating lunch with students and talking about local produce and healthy eating habits.

•NPR affiliate KUAF launched a series of stories on our Farm to School program on the radio magazine ‘Ozarks at Large’.

•A workshop for area child nutrition directors was organized in January 2013 to share project results and lend support for increasing F2S programs in NWA.

•The following lists of ‘Observations’ and ‘Lessons Learned’ were identified when participating organizations were surveyed for strengths and challenges to FPS’s Farm to School program.

What worked well
•Excellent community partnerships among UA, FPS, Apple Seeds, Feed Fayetteville, Food Corp members and the Boys and Girls Club
•Good relationships developed among the producers, FPS, and the UA
•Excellent outreach and media coverage (KUAF stories, Facebook promotion)
•Increased visibility of locally-grown foods
•Building a foundation for expanded F2S opportunities for 2013

Lessons learned
•Educational field trips to grower’s farm and farmers’ market provided excellent hands-on opportunities for kids to engage in local foods.
•Since this was a summer program, it would have been beneficial to prime the students on local foods the first week, to create further engagement throughout the seasons.
•Lunch buddies were organized so that food and farming enthusiasts could eat lunch with kids and talk to them. This activity was well received but feedback from lunch buddies requested guidelines to make the interaction as effective as possible.
•Signage and posters in the lunch area about local foods were helpful especially if there was no regular classroom education on local foods.
•Willing cafeteria staff was critical to success.
•The flexible summer lunch menu allowed the cafeteria staff to add local produce to each meal without the constraints of a set menu.
•Each organization needed one go-to “contact person.”
•Guidelines for all organizations involved would have been helpful for media protocols, standard project narrative/blurb for shared use among program partners, photo credits protocols, inclusion of project partner logos on all outreach materials.


Potential Contributions

This project laid the framework for a second SSARE Sustainable Communities Innovation grant and a USDA Farm to School implementation grant. All of the community partners brought together through this initial project are playing active roles in these subsequent grants.

FPS has been recognized as a new leader in F2S and school sustainability. In spring 2013, USDA Undersecretary Kevin Concannon visited FPS to learn about their F2S and Sustainability programs.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.