Vermont is a leading state in the Farm to School movement. Through school partnerships with local farmers, school gardens, and food-based lessons in the classroom students are learning about nutrition, local sustainability, and global food issues through hands-on activities and field trips. The farm-based education movement is growing incredibly quickly as it becomes more apparent that if we hope to raise a healthier generation of children, we need to give them hands-on education about healthy food choices and how their food impacts the world around them.
Several organizations in Vermont are key leaders in the Farm to School movement. The Upper Valley Farm to School Network provides educators with classroom resources and helps to facilitate trips to local farms, as well as the building and maintenance of school gardens. VT FEED (Food Education Every Day) provides similar services. As a collaboration between Food Works at the Two Rivers Center, Shelburne Farms, and NOFA VT, they are well positioned to facilitate collaboration between farmers, educators, and other professionals in the food system. They also host popular activities such as the Junior Iron Chef competition, cooking classes, and workshops for educators.
School gardens and farm based education help students make a direct connection with the food that they eat. Children who participate in growing their own food are far more likely to try vegetables that they refuse at home, even bringing recipes for kale chips and other snacks to their parents and teaching them to make these new foods. In addition, getting to know farmers and understand their important role in sustainable food systems early on helps children grow up to be active, informed participants in the food system with the knowledge and resources to make decisions that are healthy for their bodies and the planet.
Written by: Alison E. Putnam