Farm to School | Archived Webletters

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  • This week’s featured Farm to School Interviews
  • Resources: School Garden Safety
  • Staying involved during Farm to School Month

Featured Interviews:

This week the Project PA web site features interviews with two people who have started unique school gardens. First is a conversation with Mark Schweers, a Special Education Life-Skills Teacher who discussed the school garden he has been running with his students at Pine-Richland High School. We also interviewed Superintendent Dan Hawkins, who began a school garden program at Brockway Jr./Sr. High School during the 2010-2011 school year. Dan told us about the impact this program continues to have on his students.

In his interview, Schweers talked about how his garden program aids in his students’ academic successes by providing them with practical applications for math, communication, and reasoning concepts. Schweers stated, "I really think this is one of the best ways to educate kids with disabilities.” Students work together by applying these skills to garden related projects. For example, in the classroom, students test their math and reading skills when they complete cooking projects using ingredients grown in their garden.

The school garden at the Brockway Jr./Sr. High School was only begun last year, and before they could begin gardening, students first assisted in the construction of a greenhouse, a planting shed, and multiple outdoor raised beds. While students successfully grew a few crops this first year, the focus of this project has been student involvement. Superintendent Dan Hawkins, who started and runs this program said, “One of my goals as Superintendent is to have a kid involved in everything, and I always have to give a kid a reason to come to school. That might be sports, it might be band, but it also might be a greenhouse.” Involvement with this greenhouse project includes students in the extracurricular Future Farmers of America Club, students in Family and Consumer Sciences classes, and students in woodshop classes.

On the Project PA website, we’ve added interview clips, and photos from both of these projects – check them out today and explore the possibilities that Farm to School programs can offer! 

Resources: School Garden Safety

Starting and maintaining a school garden can be a fun project for students and professionals alike! Project PA has culled some great materials about school gardens and food safety to help you get started, and here are just a few of the resources we suggest:

“Food Safety in School Gardens”
This portion of the USDA web site contains information and resources about school gardens and food safety.

“Food Safety Tips for School Gardens”
This is one of the handouts on the above USDA page, and it is a great resource for anyone starting or managing a school garden project.

“School Garden Food Safety Best Practices”
This handout from the Pennsylvania Department of Education provides important food safety tips for school gardens.

“Fresh, Healthy, and Safe Food: Best Practices for Using Produce from School Gardens”
Made by the National Farm to School Network, this brochure includes advice about safe growing, harvesting, and handling of produce from school gardens.

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.

Project PA Farm to School Promising Practices
Access the Project PA Farm to School Promising Practices pages 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 the right side of the page.)

Resources are also available at the National 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.

To get your students involved in Farm to School month, consider having them create posters for the Farm to School Network’s 2011 poster contest! In addition to recognition for winning students, the winning schools will receive $1,000 for their Farm to School programs. Hurry up, the entry deadline is October 31, 2011!

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.


Emily Weirich | FTS Webletter Editor
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