Building Minnesota's Farm to School Policy and Infrastructure through University of Minnesota Extension and Community Partnerships

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2008: $75,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2010
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:
Stephanie Heim
University of Minnesota - Extension

Annual Reports


Not commodity specific


  • Crop Production: food product quality/safety
  • Education and Training: extension, networking, workshop, youth education
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, marketing management, farm-to-institution, risk management
  • Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, partnerships, public participation

    Proposal abstract:

    This project builds upon U of M Regional Partnerships investments in piloting Farm to School (F2S) programs in greater Minnesota since 2003. Work to date has created both the venue and knowledge on how to connect local, sustainable agriculture producers with schools in greater Minnesota, focusing on the Willmar School District. This body of knowledge is being translated into the U of M Online Farm to School Toolkit by the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture. There is, however, further opportunity for Minnesota’s nascent Farm to School efforts to better support and reflect the robust sustainable agriculture and local/regional food movement that is afoot in the state, especially in rural areas. F2S in Minnesota needs a robust group of regionally networked educators to advance the theory and practice of bringing locally and sustainably produced food into schools. Enter the U of M Extension Nutrition Program (NEP). NEP is well staffed, located throughout Minnesota, and has innovative programming that reaches into community life. Through this grant, the U of M Regional Partnerships would educate, motivate, and inform the incorporation of F2S into the U of M Extension NEP. In essence, this proposed project moves F2S in Minnesota from the pilot phase (2003-2008) to the institutionalization and implementation phase within University of Minnesota Extension. This will be accomplished by bringing the social entrepreneurial efforts of nonprofit partners, policy makers, and the U of M Regional Partnerships into a cooperative and supportive association with U of M Extension.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Short Term Outcomes: U of M Extension Nutrition Educators will have increased knowledge and motivation to include Farm to School efforts into their education and outreach efforts in schools and communities. This will be the result of both training and increased common knowledge about the Farm Bill, sustainable agriculture and the local food system by Nutrition Educators and other Extension staff working with students in K-12 schools, agriculture and community development. There will be increased opportunity for collaborative work in communities to support local food system development that includes school food service and educational opportunities for students.

    Intermediate Outcomes: The transfer of knowledge and experience from 4 years of Farm to School efforts supported by the U of M Regional Partnerships to the U of M Extension Nutrition Program thereby increasing the use of and access to local foods in community programs and PreK-12 schools throughout Minnesota, with special attention to schools and community programs eligible for food support. Farm to School becomes institutionalized within Extension as a day to day component of the Nutrition Education Program. The financial and social capital benefits accrue to both local, sustainable farmers and the children who have increased access to a variety of healthy foods produced locally and provided to them through school food service programs and other community events.

    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.