Farm to Table: A Play on Farm to School at HomePrint Page
Farm to School is a national movement that helps connect children to healthy foods and educational activities around nutrition and agriculture while also supporting local farmers and building communities. Why stop there? You can adopt this same framework at home and help children understand the story behind their food and why good food matters!
Farm to School is made up of three core elements that contribute to vibrant, healthy communities and with a little shift can be adopted for use at home in your very own kitchen or backyard.
- Shop Local. In Farm to School, schools purchase, serve and promote locally sourced foods in their cafeteria and school meals. You can do the same thing at home! Shopping local, through small markets or seasonal farmers markets, not only brings you access to fresh and healthy foods, it supports the community – creating jobs and providing direct financial support to farmers and ranchers. Helping children see the positive outcomes of shopping local emphasizes relationship building and a stronger appreciation for diverse backgrounds and experiences.
- Know where to start by finding out what local options are available to you. The US Department of Agriculture has Local Food Directories that can help you locate farmers’ markets and other food hubs to access fresh local foods for you and your family.
- Turn grocery shopping into a scavenger hunt. Look at the products available and see what local goods are available at the grocer nearest you.
- Highlight a local farm or farmer each month and plan recipes around the harvest in season or find out check out programming available to learn more about a day in the life of a farmer.
- Gardening. If you can’t find it, grow it! Gardening is a hands-on learning activity that helps children (and adults) explore nutrition and discover new foods while helping them develop lifelong skills. Tending to a garden or nurturing a seedling creates a space to reflect and practice self-awareness while also apply skills in responsibility and problem-solving.
- Make your garden work for you and your space. Gardens come in all shapes and sizes and look different in how their built depending on the climate you live in, the space you have, or the materials you have on hand.
- When it comes time to harvest, invite children to reflect on the process leading up to that point. What worked and what didn’t? What is one thing that could be done differently the next time? Whether your harvest consists of a basket of fresh veggies and berries or its one simple herb or item – take the time to cook together as a family and watch your harvest come to life in or as a brand-new dish.
- Education. The sky is the limit for learning opportunities, and they can leave a stronger impact when tied into hands-on or experiential learning. Integrate educational activities around nutrition, food, and agriculture to help children better understand the science behind their food, the process of going from a seed to their plate, and see how nutritious foods benefit both the mind and body.
- Nutrition Education
- Discuss the importance of a balanced diet and encourage healthy eating by inviting children to participate in meal planning and cooking.
- Create space to practice goal setting and explore making healthier swaps when snacking, staying properly hydrated, or trying new foods.
- Agricultural Education
- Learn about the life cycle of a plant through home gardening.
- Explore how weather and the patterns across different seasons impact growing and better understand how to shop with the seasons.
- Discover how agricultural practices differ around the world and the history that got us to where we are today.
- Food Science Education
- Talk about the mind-body connection and how different foods make us feel and perform.
- Get to know the nutritional content of food by exploring food labels and the learn about the power of each vitamin and nutrient.
- Nutrition Education
Start small and with what makes the most sense for your family and what’s currently on your plate. Pick an area of focus or activity that resonates with your child’s interests and build upon those experiences and what you learn before diving into more.
Engage with your child’s school. Many schools participate in Farm to School activities or have adopted elements of it. Talk with your child’s teacher to find out what programming is in place and how you might be able to get involved. Attend an upcoming school health team meeting and share what activities you’re implementing at home and explore ways to start or expand on something in the classroom.