The Pennsylvania Farm to School (FTS) Institute is a unique year-long learning opportunity for selected school, district or early childhood and education (ECE) program teams from Pennsylvania. 

During a two-day summer retreat, teams develop relationships, skills and a collaborative action plan to enhance farm to school activities including starting and maintaining school gardens; serving PA-grown produce in school meals and snacks; and providing educational experiences for kids to learn about food and agriculture. With the ongoing support of a coach, a financial award, additional professional development and peer networking opportunities, teams put their plans into action over the course of a year, while strengthening their capacity to integrate farm to school activities in the classroom, cafeteria and community.

The PA FTS Institute is an adaptation of the Northeast Farm to School Institute and Vermont FEED’s proven model for growing robust farm to school programs that last.

 

 

The Pennsylvania Farm to School Institute aims to support communities in developing collaborative relationships; creating holistic action plans; and implementing fun, educational and hands-on experiences that help children connect with their local food systems.

Happening Now: Request for Team Applications for the 2024-2025 Institute!

If you are interested in building a team from within your school, school district or early care and education (ECE) program, read on to learn more and prepare yourself to apply.

A Recipe for Success: Benefits of Participation

The PA FTS Institute goes beyond learning the basics of implementing farm to school activities. We help teams build the relationships, skills and connections they need to implement robust farm to school programs that align with their school’s priorities.

    • Collaborative multi-sector teams: Forge strong cross-departmental relationships that enable classroom teachers, administrators, child nutrition staff and community partners to build shared leadership and create lasting change.
    • Farm to School Action Planning: Develop a values-based, holistic Farm to School Action Plan that integrates curriculum, local procurement, youth voice, and family and community connections.
    • Coaching support: Your team is paired with an experienced coach from your state’s network. You’ll collaborate with your coach throughout the school year to implement and adapt your action plan to meet your school’s emerging needs.
    • Skill building: Engage in hands-on, role-specific workshops during the summer retreat and on virtual webinars throughout the year to support implementing your action plan.
    • Peer networking: Build valuable connections with experienced practitioners, other Institute team members and like-minded community partners who can provide support, resources and inspiration.
    • Financial award and sustainability: Each team will receive a $7,000 award to support expenses associated with their Farm to School Action Plan and support from coaches to apply for additional funding opportunities to sustain farm to school programming after the Institute.

 

Commitment and program timeline

The Institute is a year-long program kicking off with an in-person summer retreat in June 2024 and wrapping up in June 2025. Teams will collaboratively create a Farm to School Action Plan during the retreat and then work to implement that plan during the 2024-2025 school year with the support of a coach.

    • April – June 2024: All selected team members register for the in-person retreat and complete program onboarding prior to arriving at the retreat. Onboarding includes meeting together at least once with your assigned coach to complete the Farm to School Program Assessment Tool.
    • June 26-28 2024: All team members attend the in-person 2-day summer retreat at Heritage Creek Farm Camp to develop your Farm to School Action Plan, build relationships between your team members, network with peers and engage in hands-on learning through workshops and presentations.
    • Fall 2024 – Winter 2025: Meet regularly throughout the school year with your coach (monthly is recommended) as you implement your action plan; participate in virtual quarterly Institute all-team convenings to network with peers and continue gaining skills and technical assistance; and provide feedback through data collection, evaluation and storytelling to support program growth and improvement.
    • Spring 2025: Prepare a year two action plan with your coach and regather with other Institute teams in-person (regionally) or virtually to share successes and lessons learned from your experience.
    • Post-Institute: All Institute team members are invited to stay involved with the Pennsylvania Farm to School Network to continue gaining skills, learning about additional resources and professional development opportunities and networking with peers!

For the full details of this program, visit the FAQ page

Building your team:

Four different types of teams will be considered for the Institute: Teams representing a school, a school district, an Early Care and Education (ECE) program, or two ECE programs (“ECE peer support team”).

Each team will be required to pay a $500 registration fee at the time of registration in April 2024. 

    • For school teams: Teams must be composed of 4–6 individuals representing various constituencies in the school and community. Teams must have representation from the three following roles: administration, teachers/educators, school nutrition/food service. Additional members can include: family members, farmers, community partners, school nurse and other staff, school board, etc. Each school team will receive a $7,000 financial award to carry out their Farm to School Action Plans after completion of the summer retreat.
    • For school district teams: Teams must be composed of 5–7 individuals representing various constituencies in the school and community. Teams must have representation from the three following roles: district-level administration, teachers/educators, school nutrition/food service. Additional team members can include: school-level administration, family members, farmers, community partners, school nurse and other staff, school board, etc. In your application, you will be asked to identify one or two particular schools in your district to focus on implementing your Farm to School Action Plan that can serve as an example for other schools within the district. Focusing on one or two schools has been found to be the most successful way to guide district teams through the planning process. Each district team will receive a $7,000 financial award to carry out their Farm to School Action Plans after completion of the summer retreat.
    • For Early Care and Education (ECE) teams: Teams must be composed of 4-6 individuals representing various constituencies involved with the ECE program from any of the following roles: administrator/owner, educator/teacher, food service staff, parent, community partner, ELRC coach, or intermediate unit representative. ECE programs that have limited staff capacity are allowed to pair up with another ECE program of similar staff capacity to form an “ECE peer support team”. If proposing an “ECE peer support team” each ECE program must bring at least two individuals representing different roles from the list above. This type of team is encouraged to split the $500 registration fee and the $7,000 award will be split evenly between the two programs.

To learn more about how to assess whether this program is a good fit for you, visit that section of the FAQ page

Team application and selection timeline

  • Team Applicant Info Session – recording
  • Team application deadline: Thursday, March 28, 2024, by midnight
  • Notifications of team selections will be made the week of April 8, 2024
  • Selected teams and individuals complete registration forms by the end of April 2024
  • Institute retreat welcome packets sent out in early June

 

Review the FAQ page for the full details about the program. If you have additional questions, please email pafarmtoschool@thefoodtrust.org
 

This opportunity is provided by The Pennsylvania Farm to School Network, coordinated by The Food Trust with funding from United Healthcare, Shelburne Farms Institute for Sustainable Schools and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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