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"Because it’s really more than just a farm, it’s a local business that employs local people in their productions, so we were able to have a local business into the school."

Fifth Grade Family and Consumer Science Students Harvest Benefits from Farm to School Program

Local growers are an important part of many communities. However, not everyone is aware of the significance they play in our lifestyle and our health. Jeanette Black, the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for Penn Cambria School District, explains in this interview that learning where food comes from, how it is made, and what it is made of, are essential lessons her district’s students learn throughout the school year.

Fifth grade students in Family and Consumer Science classes are targeted for these lessons through their Farm to School project. They participate in many educational and interactive experiences, including the opportunity to meet a local farmer. Ms. Black recounts the time a volunteer from a local dairy farm came into the classroom to outline the journey of a product from farm to table and to explain each step of the process. He also talked about the effects of geography and other factors on what can and cannot be successfully grown in the region.

Black describes the students’ high level of interest in the farmer’s presentation. They asked him numerous questions not only about the dairy farm and the cows, but also about farm management and the economic impact of community support of local farmers.

The students taste-tested several recipes, including products from their presenter’s local dairy farm. They went online and used a free online label creator to make nutrition labels for all the foods they tested. “Now it was not just about healthy or not healthy,” Black explains. “That’s part of it, but they were actually looking at everything from what vitamins were in it to fat content. The label activity included calories, of course, but it also included that nutritional analysis as well.” Black tells how they were able to tie lessons of agricultural standards and health standards together, including the PA academic standards in the environment and ecology, and in science and health, which are all tested in the science portion of annual Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) tests.

Although the project has been quite successful, Black explains the challenges she faced trying to find local farmers who could volunteer to visit classes. Timing for the taste-testing and lessons of the project became a concern because many farmers were unavailable to give up a day of farm work. “We were asking them to give up half a day or a day, and during prime planting season or during the season when they’re the busiest in April, to come in and do this.” Fortunately, however, they managed to find a volunteer farmer who could visit for a whole day, and they have since built a relationship with his local business, something Black feels will benefit both the school and the business alike in the future.



Jeanette Black - Biggest success of Farm to School program.

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Biggest success of Farm to School program.

Jeanette Black - How the Farm to School program is educational.

How the Farm to School program is educational.

Jeanette Black - Farm to School and geography ... an interesting relationship.

Farm to School and geography ... an interesting relationship..
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