Saturday, January 28, 2012

Farm to School Pilot Project

Produce at the Fayetteville Farmers Market, photo by Martha Dragich,
Visiting Professor and LL.M. Candidate
I was delighted to attend a meeting with an impressive group of community leaders who are implementing a new pilot program to link Fayetteville Public Schools with locally sourced fresh foods through direct purchase from area farmers.  The program should serve as an effective model for other school districts throughout the state.

The project is a creative collaboration led by Professor Curt Rom at the Horticulture Department of the University of Arkansas Bumpers College of Agriculture and including the Fayetteville Public School System, Feed FayettevilleApple Seeds, Inc., our local office of the National Center for Appropriate Technology, and the local National Public Radio Station, KUAF.

The project will include work with farmers to promote sustainable farming management systems, GAP procedures, documentation to ensure product health and safety, and risk management. A nutrition education program for the children will include grower visits to the classroom, field trips to the farmers' market, farm visits, and food choice lessons. And, over the summer when produce is readily available and public school kitchens are underutilized, a program for minimally processing the food will be put into place for use later during the school year.

I have rarely attended a meeting that was so well directed, positive, and collaborative. It once again made me proud of our community. Alumni from the LL.M. Program will know exactly what I mean, and those considering the Program in the future can be reassured. There are many good things involving food and agriculture here in Northwest Arkansas, and the LL.M. Program is just one of them.

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