Building a Model Farm to School Program using Community Partnerships

2012 Annual 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

Building a Model Farm to School Program using Community Partnerships


The University of Arkansas and Fayetteville Public Schools (FPS)is proposing 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, FeedFayetteville, a local non-profit dedicated to increasing of and alleviating hunger through local resources, and KUAF, the local NPR radio affiliate. The project will identify obstacles to F2S in Northwest Arkansas, identify growers to produce for FPS and deliver nutrition education to FPS students with classroom activities and field trips to the local farmers’ market and a local farm. Community outreach will occur 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 will be reached through a workshop to extend project outcomes and provide direction on how schools can implement a F2S at their schools.

Objectives/Performance Targets

  1. 1)Procure locally grown produce for the Fayetteville Public Schools by identifying growers in NWA interested in producing for F2S, identifying produce items that can be supplied to meet the school’s needs and 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 challenges and solutions associated with establishing a farm to school program in NWA


  • 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.

    Apple Seeds Inc delivered a nutrition education program where students visited two local farms and the farmers market

    Feed Fayetteville organized 'Lunch buddies' for eating lunch with students, talking about local produce

    NPR affilate KUAF luanched a series of stories on our Farm to School program Ozarks at Large.
    All participating organizations were surveyed for strengths and challenges of a Farm to School program.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

  • Students learned about different agricultural products grown locally.
    FPS switch to local beef for all of their in-house preparations.
    Despite a severe drought in 2012, over 2,000lb of produce was delivered for the Summer Lunch program.
    KUAF listeners throughout Northwest Arkansas learned about Fayetteville Public Schools' farm to school program.
    This F2S grant has allowed Fayetteville Public Schools to submit and receive funding from the USDA Farm to School program and year 2 funding from the SARE Sustainable Communities program.
Observations and Lessons Learned
  • What worked well:
    Excellent community partnerships among UA, FPS, Apple Seeds, Feed Fayetteville and the Boys and Girls Club
    Good relationships developed among the producers, FPS, and the UA
    Excellent outreach and media coverage (KUAF stories)
    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 season.
    The flexible summer lunch menu allowed the cafeteria staff to add local produce to each meal without the constraints of a set menu.
    Lunch buddies were organized so that food and farming enthusiasts could eat lunch with kids and talk to them. This activity was well received and effective but feedback from lunch buddies requested a protocol, guidelines, etc.
    Each organization needed one go-to “contact person.”
    Project partnership MOU 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.
    Signage in the lunch area about local foods was helpful especially if there was no regular classroom education on local foods.
    Willing cafeteria staff was critical to success.