Farm to School | Archived Webletters




Webletter Contents

  • Introduction
  • This week's featured Farm to School Program: "School Gardens, Farmer Visits, and Student Involvement in the Owen J. Roberts School District"
  • Funding information
  • Staying involved during Farm to School Month


October is National Farm to School Month, and in celebration, Project PA will be featuring some of Pennsylvania's most dynamic Farm to School programs through special webletters sent via our mailing list, and through even more content available on our website. Farm to School programs can be effective and fun ways to enhance children's education and improve their eating habits, and these programs can actually be quite feasible in many different types of schools.

Here in Pennsylvania, Farm to School programs range vastly in scope, including small orchards begun during the past year, multi-acre gardens, fresh produce taste tests, field trips to local farms, and using local produce in the cafeteria. While individuals with farming backgrounds initiated some of these programs, many of them were begun by individuals from other backgrounds who were enthusiastic about increasing student involvement with the food they eat every day. Regardless of the type of project, these programs provide students with a connection to their food and reinforce the benefits of healthy eating.

School personnel who manage Farm to School programs and activities in Pennsylvania have submitted Promising Practices and participated in interviews with us to share their stories. We hope you will listen to their interviews, read their promising practices, view their photos, or even try making one of their recipes! We also hope that you will enjoy learning about these innovative programs, and will feel inspired to start one in your own community, or try a new idea in your existing program!

Featured Interview:

"School Gardens, Farmer Visits, and Student Involvement in the Owen J. Roberts School District"

In her interview, Jo-an Rechtin, Manager of School and Community Engagement, spoke about how the Farm to School program benefits students in all grades and in multiple disciplines throughout the Owen J. Roberts School District. Rechtin discusses the benefits of working with both teachers and students on various Farm to School projects: bringing farmers into the schools, seeing high school students empowered through their Farm Day teaching experiences, witnessing kindergarten teachers making pumpkin soup with their students, and sourcing local produce in the cafeteria.

While students of all ages enjoy local produce throughout the district, the annual Farm Day is unique in that it brings together students from multiple grades. Following months of planning, high school students spend a day teaching kindergarten students about life on a farm, and the journey food takes from farm to plate. When remembering her observations of high school students after the morning kindergarten students left the Farm Day stations, Rechtin stated, "They were so empowered, and so lit up, and so thrilled and happy to see how their work culminated."

In addition to the many successes of these programs, Rechtin also described the reality of managing such a vast program, "Getting them going is not as big of an obstacle as people make it, I think. It's keeping them going that has been the bigger challenge for us." Not dissuaded by these challenges, Rechtin focused on her strategies for working through them. She discussed the importance of constantly advocating for the program -- keeping it in the fore in as many encounters with parents, teachers, and district administrators as possible. Following this approach has gotten Rechtin not just continuing support for her programs, but also unexpected volunteers, such as two local moms who assisted students from more than fifty classrooms to complete planting projects this past spring.

The Farm to School programs in the Owen J. Roberts School District are thriving, and you can learn more about them by visiting our website. Our content for this Promising Practice includes audio clips as well as a link to the entire interview, photographs, the pumpkin soup recipe, and links to all of the Promising Practice write-ups about this school district's Farm to School programs..


This week, we have two resources to share with you:, which is a resource of the National Gardening Association, has posted several grant opportunities in their latest newsletter. While the deadlines for a few of these have already passed, this looks like a good place to check for future funding possibilities.

The National Farm to School Network and Annie's Root 4 Kids are offering three $1,000 prizes for student-made posters about Farm to School Month. Click here to visit their site for to download a PDF file for poster requirements. Contest deadline: October 31, 2011.

Staying Involved During Farm to School Month

For resources about Farm to School right here in Pennsylvania please check the Project PA Farm to School website. (Click on the Farm to School tab found in the top menu bar.)

Project PA Farm to School Promising Practices
Access this page to read and hear about successful Farm to School programs in Pennsylvania. If you have a success story to share, please let us know about it by submitting a Promising Practice through the Project PA website. (On the main Project PA site, see the Promising Practices submission link on right side of page.)

Resources are also available at the Farm to School Network's site for this special month. In addition to finding details about the poster contest, the Farm to School Network has put together quite a few resources that can be used to promote your school's Farm to School projects. Click here to visit the Farm to School Month site.

Finally, the Farm to School discussion continues on Project PA's Farm to School Facebook page! Connect with your colleagues here to share your ideas, discuss what you've learned from the interviews, or answer one of our daily Farm to School Month questions. Project PA's Farm to School Site on Facebook.


Emily Weirich | FTS Webletter Editor
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