Farm to School helps students establish a lifelong positive relationship with food while supporting a more just food system by connecting hands-on learning, food purchasing, and school gardens. Vermont FEED, the organization behind the Northeast Farm to School Institute focuses on the 3Cs – classroom, cafeteria, and community – to align food values with learning environments.

© Vermont FEED, a partnership project of Shelburne Farms and NOFA-VT

Representatives from the PA Farm to School Network, state coordinator Sam Gibb (The Food Trust), and Pittsburgh Food Policy Council staff Sarah Buranskas, attended the Northeast Farm to School Institute summer retreat at Shelburne Farms in Vermont in June. The model created by Vermont FEED includes several components:

  • The Institute is a unique year-long professional opportunity for selected school, district, or early childhood teams from New England and New York to work with experienced coaches to learn about Farm to School and implement their plans.
  • The summer retreat is a 3-day kick-off for the Institute, where teams participate in hands-on workshops, hear from speakers about best practices and resources, and are provided time to complete action plans for their Farm to School goals.
  • The Pennsylvania team participated as adapters– representatives of a state who observe the summer retreat and the Institute in action, and receive technical assistance so they can replicate the model in their home states.

© Vermont FEED, a partnership project of Shelburne Farms and NOFA-VT

As adapters, the PA team was able to shadow a school district team from western NY, observing as they identified their values, Farm to School goals for the year, and potential roadblocks. Additionally adapters are given an inside look into planning and coordination for the Institute – modeling agricultural literacy for participants, coaching levels, event logistics, and evaluation.

9 teams from schools in the Northeast and adapters from 6 states enjoy the Farm to School Institute at Shelburne Farms Vermont

Get Involved! The PA Farm to School Network will be coordinating a planning committee for the Pennsylvania Farm to School Institute. If you’d like to learn more about Farm to School across the Commonwealth, sign up for the Monthly Harvest newsletter, join the next virtual open house, or get in touch directly with any questions.

Many thanks to Vermont FEED, a collaborative project of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT), and Shelburne Farms Institute for Sustainable Schools for organizing the Institute, hosting retreat attendees and sharing their expertise! Check out media coverage about the Institute retreat in Vermont Business Magazine and WCAX.

This post was written by Sarah Buranskas of the Pittsburgh Food Policy Council.

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