Saturday, December 4, 2010

Johnson County Community College Plows a Campus Farm

Reposted from the Johnson County Community College website.

Mike Ryan, JCCC Campus Farm and Community Outreach Manager, stands in front of the 1870's timber-framed barn adjacent to the college's Horticultural Science Building.
 When the northwest corner of campus was plowed to create a vegetable farm this fall, the land came full circle after more than 40 years ­ from farm to suburban landscape back to farm.

 Mike Ryan began his duties as the campus farm and community outreach manager on Aug. 17, overseeing a two-and-a-half acre, four-season vegetable farm in support of the sustainable agriculture entrepreneurship certificate program, hospitality management program and the community.

Students in the sustainable agriculture entrepreneurship certificate program are required to complete three semesters of a practicum, learning a broad range of tasks facing the market farmer – planning, planting, harvesting, delivering, marketing, selling and bookkeeping. Previously, students completed their practicums at the Kansas State University Research and Extension Center in west Olathe, miles from the program’s classes offered at the main JCCC campus or Lawrence.

“Hopefully, having the vegetable farm on campus will be more convenient for students,” Ryan said.

Ryan, who helped to develop the K-State/JCCC student farm site and sustainable agriculture campus produce market, is working with Stu Shafer, professor and chair, sociology, who teaches sustainable agriculture classes, and students to plant one acre of land south of the Horticulture Science Center this fall with garlic, onion seed, spinach, leafy greens and cover crop plants that will be used to enrich the soil. Fall practicum students are also moving a high tunnel from the K-State Extension Center to JCCC.

“It is neat to see the students’ enthusiasm in their realization that the campus farm is a new operation and they are on the ground floor,” Ryan said.

Eventually, Ryan wants to see the farm become a four-season operation with crops available to JCCC’s Dining Services and to faculty, staff and the general public through a farmers’ market.

 “We are hoping to expand our weekly farmers’ market sale, providing volume allows,” Ryan said. “The market gives our students the experience of marketing produce and also provides people on campus with access to locally grown reputable food.”

Ryan also foresees the farm as a community outreach site for people interested in the local food movement to try different growing methods and for school districts interested in farm-to-school lunches, a movement he has volunteered with in Lawrence. Ryan also has been involved in composting efforts with the K-State/JCCC farm and JCCC dining services.

Ryan has a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Kansas and a sustainable agriculture entrepreneurship certificate from JCCC.

“I would like to see the college establish a small local food community where consumers are face-to-face with the people who grow their food,” Ryan said.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Local Food Procurement Tips for School Dining Services

Solid, long-term relationships are built on trust and compatible goals. Three major components will make your search for local products most productive. First, provide detailed information about your operation to share with a prospective farm products vendor. Second, be ready to ask basic questions of the farmer or other supplier. Third, in order to fully utilize fresh fruits and vegetables which are seasonal, and to build a mutually advantageous relationship with a local supplier, be prepared to be flexible and creative. It’s worth the effort!

Step One: Prepare basic information about your operation for farmer or distributor conversations. 

1. Provide the following information:
  • Name:
  • Contact info:
  • Location of drop off point(s):
  • Time and day of drop off requirements:
  • Indicate the best way to reach you, and best times to call or visit.
2. How and when do you prefer to place orders (fax, email, phone)?

3. How does the farmer become an official vendor for your operation?
What paperwork is required in advance, and for each delivery?
Can the packing slip serve as an invoice or must bills be sent separately?

4. What produce are you interested in purchasing?
Provide a rough estimate of your weekly orders. Do not include items not grown in KS. Check the Growing Lawrence seasonality chart at
What quantities/product volume?
How often do you need delivery?

5. Provide a rough estimate of your weekly orders:
Dollar amount or product volume per type of product:
How long will it take farmer to get paid?

6. Do you serve meals in the summer? If yes, tell the farmer the dates, delivery locations, and size of orders for summer vs. regular school year.

Step Two: Talk with potential suppliers. 
Ask these questions and prepare others as needed.

Option 1: Talk with a local farmer.

1. Find prospective farmers in your area through searchable databases available at:
and visit local farmers markets or farm stands.

2. ls the farmer interested in, or already selling to, colleges or schools?

3. Give the farmer the basic information you prepared above.

4. What products does the farm sell? When are these products available for sale?

5. Does the farmer have a delivery truck and the ability to deliver regularly?

6. Would the farmer pick up products from other farms to deliver at the same time?

7. Does the farmer require a minimum purchase per delivery location, or per invoice?

8. How does the farmer address food safety issues?

9. Can you visit the farm?

Option 2: Talk with a distributor or other non-farm vendor about securing local items.

1. Can the vendor provide a list of local farms from which products have been procured in the past, and a sense of what local foods will be available, and when?

2. Can the vendor provide you with promotional materials from the farms whose products they sell?

3. Can the vendor give you a list of the local items that were offered to customers in the past year?

4. Does the vendor have a system in place to alert you to which products are in season and available each week?

5. Will the vendor pick up local products at the farm gate and deliver them directly to you? If not, how are locally grown foods tracked or segregated in the warehouse?

6. Will products be delivered to you in boxes which note the farm of origin, or which identify in some way where the items were locally grown?

7. How does the distributor address food safety issues?

8. Can you visit the farm and the distribution center?

These tips were adapted from the New Jersey Farm to School Network based on previous versions prepared by the Maryland Department of Agriculture, National Marketing Services and the Massachusetts Farm to School Project.  

Saturday, October 9, 2010

School Gardening Grants Available: Youth Garden Grants and Mantis Tiller, a project of the National Gardening Association, lists several grants available to school garden projects.

Deadline: November 1, 2010

NGA awards Youth Garden Grants to schools and community organizations with child-centered garden programs. In evaluating grant applications, priority will be given to programs that emphasize one or more of these elements:
  • educational focus or curricular/program integration
  • nutrition or plant-to-food connections
  • environmental awareness/education
  • entrepreneurship
  • social aspects of gardening such as leadership development, team building, community support, or service-learning.
Who should apply: Schools, youth groups, community centers, camps, clubs, treatment facilities, and intergenerational groups throughout the United States are eligible. Applicants must plan to garden with at least 15 children between the ages of 3 and 18 years. Previous Youth Garden Grant winners who wish to reapply may do so, but must wait one year (e.g., if you won in 2010, you can apply again in 2012) and have significantly expanded their garden programs. 
For the 2011 grant cycle, 100 grants are available. Packages are as follows:
  • Five (5) programs will receive gift cards valued at $1000 (a $500 gift card* to The Home Depot and a $500 gift card to the Gardening with Kids catalog and educational materials from NGA
  • Ninety-five (95) programs will receive a $500 gift card* to The Home Depot and educational materials from NGA
For more information and to download application info, please visit: 

Deadline: March 1, 2011

Each year, Mantis presents the Mantis Awards to charitable and educational garden projects that enhance the quality of life in their host communities. NGA selects 25 outstanding applicants to receive Mantis tiller/cultivators.

Who should apply: Any nonprofit garden program may apply. In the past, winners have included schools, churches, correctional facilities, parks departments, youth camps, community gardens, and many others. These are groups turning slim resources into bountiful gardens with far-reaching benefits, from increasing their community’s access to fresh nutritious foods to educating the public about the importance of gardening in our nation’s history.
Applicants must:
  • operate a charitable or educational program that is not for profit in the United States
  • not offer the tiller as a prize for fundraising (e.g., auction or raffle)
Award Packages: 25 programs will each receive a Mantis Tiller/Cultivator with border/edger and kickstand, and their choice of gas-powered 2-cycle engine or electric motor. Value: $349.00.

For more information and to download application info, please visit:

Digging Through the Farm to School Resources

 On October 7, 2010, a webinar entitled Digging Through the Farm to School Resources took place.

The USDA Farm to School Team and the National Farm to School Network jointly discussed where to find farm to school related resources, as well as highlighted a sampling of available resources in the areas of: 
  • how to get started; 
  • distribution; 
  • food safety; 
  • procurement; 
  • and nutrition/agriculture education. 
A series of Q&As related to this webinar, as well as a PDF of the presentation,  can be found on the USDA Farm to School page. A recording of the October 7th webinar will be available shortly.

UPDATE from the USDA website:
On October 7, 2010, a webinar entitled Digging Through the Farm to School Resources took place. The USDA Farm to School Team and the National Farm to School Network jointly discussed where to find farm to school related resources, as well as highlighted a sampling of available resources in the areas of: how to get started; distribution; food safety; procurement; and nutrition/agriculture education. We would like to thank the webinar participants for their thoughtful questions and comments. Below you can find links to watch and listen to the webinar, to a webinar handout, as well as follow-up questions and answer from the webinar.
Digging Through the Farm to School Resources:
Watch and Listen to Webinar
Presentation Handouts
Webinar Q&As
Farm to School Resources
Food Safety
Procurement of Local Food Products

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Our Local Food Fest: Friday, October 1

Join us for a Local Food Event to support local farms, school gardens, and farm to school programs.
  • Sample local foods prepared by local chefs.
  • Learn about school garden initiatives now underway in the Lawrence School district. 
  • Watch the premier showing of the complete Cordley Elementary Farm-to-School Lunch film and other videos prepared by our local high school students about our local foods. 
  • Talk to like minded knowledgeable people about local foods and farm-to-school opportunities. 
  • Screen the feature film What's On Your Plate
All proceeds from this event will go to support local school garden projects including West Junior High, Free State High, Sunset Hills, Hillcrest and Central Junior High!

Friday, October 1 
6:00 pm
Liberty Hall,  644 Mass. St. - Lawrence, KS

local food samplings from local chefs courtesy of : Free State Brewing Company, Pachamamas, The Merc, Angler's and Local Burger

school garden presentations

Film Screening of "What's On Your Plate"

Tickets available online through Ticketmaster or at Liberty Hall Box Office, The Merc and Cottin's Hardware
Adults $15 in advance $20 at the door
Children 12 & under $5

All proceeds from this event will go to support local school garden projects including West Junior High, Free State High, Sunset Hills, Hillcrest and Central Junior High!

Watch the movie trailer:

National Farm to School Network Video

Take 3 minutes and learn about the National Farm to School network from the kids' point of view:

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lawrence to Launch a Farm to School and Community Garden Program at Free State High School

Plans are under way for a community and school garden project at Free State High School.

The unique partnership involving school officials, Free State High ag students, parents, K-State Research and Extension, a local chef, a grocery chain and other community members began to take shape in June.

The project will include plots for members of the community as well as a garden managed by the school's ag ed students. Students will also operate a farmers market and sell garden produce to the school's cafeteria.

Read more about the Lawrence Community and Learning Garden project here.

A news video by Lawrence's Channel Six can be viewed here.

USDA Announces Funding to Expand School Community Gardens and Garden-Based Learning Opportunities 

The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has $1 million available in Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 for a People's Garden School Pilot Program. FNS is requesting applications to enter into a cooperative agreement for the purposes of awarding grants to develop and run community gardens at eligible high-poverty schools; teaching students involved in the gardens about agriculture production... practices, diet, and nutrition; contributing produce to supplemental food provided at eligible schools, student households, local food banks, or senior center nutrition programs; and conducting a scientific evaluation of the pilot program.

USDA will host a webinar for prospective applicant on Thursday, October 14, from 2:00pm  to 3:00pm Central time. Advance registration is required for the webinar. You can sign-up here:

Read More:

The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is announcing the opportunity for public and not-for-profit organizations to submit applications for a Peoples Garden School Pilot Program grant competition. FNS has set aside $1 million for this pilot program. One grantee will be selected to enter into a cooperative agreement for the purposes of developing and running community gardens at eligible high-poverty schools; teaching students involved in the gardens about agriculture production practices, diet, and nutrition; contributing produce to supplement food provided at eligible schools, student households, local food banks, or senior center nutrition programs; and conducting an evaluation of funded projects to learn more about the impacts of school gardens.

Interested parties must adhere to all the application material requirements in order to be considered for funding. FNS must receive completed grant applications on or before 5 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), Oct. 8, 2010. Applications may be submitted by email to: or

Below is the recent press release from USDA:

WASHINGTON, Aug. 25, 2010 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA will establish a People's Garden School Pilot Program to develop and run community gardens at eligible high-poverty schools; teach students involved in the gardens about agriculture production practices, diet, and nutrition; and evaluate the learning outcomes. This $1 million pilot program is authorized under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act. A cooperative agreement will be awarded to implement a program in up to five States. To be eligible as project sites, schools must have 50 percent or more students qualifying for free or reduced-price school meals.

"Grass roots community gardens and agriculture programs have great promise for teaching our kids about food production and nutrition at the local level," said Vilsack. "Learning where food comes from and what fresh foods taste like, and the pride of growing and serving vegetables and fruits that grew through your own effort, are life-changing experiences. All of us at USDA are proud to make this possible."

Part of a broad USDA effort to provide children with access to a nutritious and safe diet, this initiative also aims to influence healthier choices for all American households. Produce raised in the gardens can be used in the schools' meals and by student households, local food banks, or senior center nutrition programs.

Through this pilot program, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service seeks to identify models of successful school garden initiatives which then can be marketed to the K-12 community for inspiration, ideas, and replication.

Improving USDA's child nutrition programs is a top priority of the Obama Administration. Congress is currently considering legislation to bolster the Child Nutrition Act, which authorizes the National School Lunch, School Breakfast, and Summer Food Service Programs. These programs serve nearly 32 million children each school day and work in concert to form a national safety net against hunger. Improving the Child Nutrition Act is the legislative centerpiece of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! Campaign and was highlighted in the White House report Solving the Problem of Childhood Obesity Within a Generation, released on May 11. By passing strong reauthorization legislation, the Administration hopes to reduce hunger, promote access, and improve the overall health and nutrition of children throughout the country. To learn more about the First Lady's Let's Move! campaign, visit

The grant is available to public and not-for-profit organizations. Grant applications may be submitted by email to: or through The Request for Applications is available on-line at The deadline for applications is November 8, 2010.

USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) oversees the administration of 15 nutrition assistance programs, including the child nutrition programs that touch the lives of one in four Americans over the course of a year. These programs work in concert to form a national safety net against hunger. Visit for information about FNS and the USDA nutrition assistance programs.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Cordley Elementary Farm-to-School Lunch Event

Cordley second-grader Chloe McNair helps pick strawberries at Wohletz Farm Fresh, 1831 N. 1100 Road. The berries were used in a dessert prepared for Cordley students as part of a special lunch put on by the Farm-to-School program.  
 Photo by Rick Martin
A group of Lawrence residents, chefs, business owners, farmers and parents joined together to bring the students and staff at Cordley Elementary School an all local, mostly organic, non-processed delicious lunch on Friday, May 21, 2010. The event, coordinated by Linda Cottin and her daughter Cole, was in honor of the amazing Cordley Picnic Shelter that was recently completed and was a tribute to all the wonderful local food producers and purveyors that Lawrence has to offer. Funding for the event was supplied by the Kansas Rural Center and through donations from several local businesses.

Watch the video developed to share with students before the meal: 

Read more about the event and see photos on Facebook.
Media coverage of the event:
Lessons in lunch: Elementary students learn ingredients come from places besides grocery store, Lawrence Journal-World
Cordley students get a taste of farm-fresh cooking with special lunch, Lawrence Journal-World

Cordley Farm-to-School Lunch Menu and select ingredients
Photo by Tara Nelson
Vegetarian Lasagna: Local handmade pasta from 715, Central Soyfood tofu, local vegetables and Alma Creamery cheese.
Beef Lasagna: Local handmade pasta from 715, MJ Ranch beef, local vegetables, Alma Creamery cheese and b├ęchamel sauce.
Gluten-Free/Dairy-Free Lasagna: Central Soyfood tofu and local vegetables.
Whole-Wheat Breadsticks: Local Acme Grain flour.
Salad Bar: Local produce including mixed greens, tomatoes, onions, radishes, turnips, snap peas, carrots, strawberries and hard-boiled eggs, served with locally made vinaigrette and ranch dressings from Pachamama's.
Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp: Wohletz Farm Fresh strawberries picked by Cordley students, rhubarb from JCCC's student garden and Anthony's Beehive honey.
Milk: Iwig Family Dairy.

Kansas: School Garden Programs

Growing Food, Growing West
West Junior High, Lawrence KS
Community Mercantile Cooperative Grocery and Community Mercantile Education Foundation in Lawrence, Kansas have partnered with neighboring West Junior High School to build a permanent 4,000 sq. foot schoolyard garden. The coop has employed six West students to work in the garden, sell produce at a student run market this summer, and supply produce to the cafeteria in the fall. There will be lots of education and curriculum integration, and what we expect will be a beautiful, bountiful garden.
Keep up-to-date on the project at
For more information, contact Nancy O'Connor.

FoodCorps Vision: Build Farm to School supply chains, expand food system and nutrition education programs, and build and tend school food gardens


The vision for FoodCorps is to recruit young adults for a yearlong term of public service in school food systems. Once stationed, FoodCorps members will build Farm to School supply chains, expand food system and nutrition education programs, and build and tend school food gardens. The ultimate goal of the project is to increase the health and prosperity of vulnerable children, while investing in the next generation of farmers. 
A 16-month planning process to develop FoodCorps began in January 2010. A summit of 60 interested stakeholders took place in Detroit May 19-20. Open conference calls to discuss the program are held on the first Thursday of every month at 5pm ET. For information about how to join the open calls and reminders on when they're being held, sign up here.
The planning process is building toward submission of a proposal to implement the FoodCorps concept, to be submitted to AmeriCorps and program partners in January 2011.

Watch the IATP Food and Society Fellows webinar with Deb Eschmeyer of the National Farm to School Network, and Curt Ellis, co-creator the documentaries "King Corn" and "Big River" on the development of the FoodCorps program:

The next FoodCorps monthly open conference call on Thurday, August 5 will provide an introduction to the FoodCorps program, an update on FoodCorps Work Groups, information on becoming a FoodCorps Host Site, and open time for your questions.

To Participate:
This Thursday August 5, 5pm Eastern
Call (218) 936-4141
Enter code 571334#
For More Information:
Email, visit or call (718) 852-4656.