Appalachian grown:Farm to School Project
Project partner meetings have provided a forum for discussion on the opportunities and barriers for farm-to-school from different view points (i.e., farmers, child nutrition directors, processors, local food advocates, ag extension, etc). One understanding that has come from these discussions is that analyses need to look beyond quantifying the size of the market (demand) and look more closely at School policies and Nutrition programs. For example, one way to increase demand for local fruits and vegetables is to have seasonal menus rather than the same type of menus throughout the year.
At this stage, project activities focused on data gathering are ongoing; future reports will articulate results of data analyses.
Objective #1 “Research and assess existing/potential conditions for Farm to School (F2S) in western NC”: Survey Child Nutrition Directors and their staffs to gather information regarding: preferred food products/level of processing, insurance/liability coverage, quantities. Extrapolate information to conclude what crop would be the most profitable, how many farmers F2S could provide a market for. Farmers interviewed for data collection of current F2S market, opportunities/barriers to this market, develop business plans.
Objective #2 “Educating market participants and consumers to expand market potential”: Provide information/training to Child Nutrition Directors interested in sourcing locally grown food for school. Outreach/training to recruit new farmers to market. Provide 5 farm trips and 5 local food cooking classes to schools to promote the F2S market. Evaluate effectiveness of this educational experience on the market potential for farmers.
PROJECT ACCOMPLISHMENTS TO DATE:
Quarterly Meetings: Project partners have convened two meetings to review project objectives and provide updates on project activities. In the first meeting, project partners attended and participated in a start-up meeting at the ASAP office in Asheville. This meeting revolved around partner introductions, a review of grant activities and objectives, Memorandums of Understanding, and reporting and reimbursement logistics. Project partners also assisted with the identification and selection of a team member to conduct the economic research. In the second meeting, project participants used the project logic model (created by O’Sullivan & Associates) to detail a timeline of activities and deliverables in relation to project goals. In addition to these two quarterly meetings, in early January 2008, O’Sullivan & Associates and ASAP met to discuss the design and implementation of the steps to achieve Objective #2 specifically relating to outreach and demonstrations in the schools.
Memorandums of Understanding: MOUs detailing partner roles were drafted and signed between each partner and ASAP.
Project Management and Evaluation: O’Sullivan & Associates, in collaboration with ASAP, developed a collaborative evaluation model to track and assess project activities.
Project Logic Model: O’Sullivan & Associates—with input from project partners—created and then updated a project logic model that outlines activities, outcomes, impacts, and parties responsible for each of the project activities. Based on the logic model, a detailed timeline of project activities was established at the 2nd quarterly meeting with all partners present.
Farm-to-School Sales Assessment: Madison Farms has been conducting a farm-to-school sales assessment. The assessment has: detailed the inventory of commodities produced by Madison County farmers that were bought by Madison Farms (for sale and distribution); detailed the inventory of commodities sold to Farm to School program accounts; conducted a cost analysis of production of the various commodities, by farm, that were sold to these accounts; performed a cost analysis of production and the cost (labor and processing) of freezing and packaging two specific crops for public schools (broccoli and yellow squash); identified the purchasing patterns of accounts in order to prepare for a farmer planning meeting held in January; participated in meetings with Farm to School accounts to discuss purchasing activity, obstacles to purchasing at a higher level, and any product problems that might exist; performed a comparative analysis of 2007 Farm to School sales with previous years (2006, 2005, 2004) and assessment of crop value changes during the period ($’s paid to farmers); and documented weekly assessment of MF product availability and sales to F2S accounts.
Data collection: Child Nutrition Directors from Madison, Mitchell, and Yancey County schools have provided the project economist from Clemson University with baseline data on the amount and kinds of fresh and processed produce purchased as well as the price paid. The project economist has begun to compile and organize this information.
ACTIVITIES TO COMPLETE FOR OBJECTIVE 1:
Complete the collection of data needed from Child Nutrition Directors and analyze the information.
Complete research on current farm-to-school markets and farmer related issues, including costs, returns, and opportunities and barriers.
Determine the price potential for processed food products with Blue Ridge Food Ventures.
Extrapolate information to conclude what crop(s) would be the most profitable and how many farmers farm-to-school could provide a market for.
ACTIVITIES TO COMPLETE FOR OBJECTIVE 2:
Conduct farm field trips and cooking classes.
Measure impacts of farm field trips and cooking classes on children and teachers.
Conduct outreach and training to new farmers with interest in the farm to school market.
Conduct outreach and training to Child Nutrition Directors interested in sourcing locally grown food for schools and identify barriers.
Complete final report of project findings for dissemination
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
This project will benefit producers and consumers in the region through an approach that combines research and outreach & education and that engages multiple stakeholders (including farmers, cooperative extension, Child Nutrition Directors, ASAP, and a locally based food processor, and others) in an ongoing dialogue about the opportunities and barriers to the farm-to-school market.
The impact and contributions from this project will include:
Increased understanding about the viability of different Farm to School models for both farmers and school districts
Increased understanding about the possibilities of expanding current Farm to School buying practices (in 3 locations: Yancey, Mitchell, and Madison counties)
Creation of outreach education and training activities based on research findings
A change in children’s’ & teachers’ perception about food and food systems
Improved children’s eating patterns
Increased interest in eating local foods
Additional farmers participating in Farm-to-School
Farmers new to Farm-to-school are better informed
Barriers standing in the way of a better functioning Farm-to-School identified
New Child Nutrition Directors participate in Farm-to-School programs
Information learned from this project is available to farmers, Child Nutrition Directors, community members (i.e., parents, teachers, etc) through ASAP, SSAWG, and CFSC information dissemination
Yancey County Child Nutrition Director
Yancey County Schools
100 School Circle | PO Box 190
Burnsville, NC 28714
Office Phone: 8286826101
Blue Ridge Food Ventures
1461 Sand Hill Road
Candler, NC 28715
Office Phone: 8286659464
Madison County Child Nutrition Director
Mitchell County Schools
72 Ledger School Rd.
Bakersville, NC 28705
Office Phone: 8287662240
O’Sullivan and Associates
PO Box 21928
Greensboro, NC 27420
Office Phone: 3363347957