Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Pollinate: The 2015 Mass Farm to School Conference

On January 13, 2015 Mass Farm to School Project held a regional conference in Worcester, MA. Attending the conference were food service directors, educators, policy makers, public health advocates and farm to school enthusiasts.

Three inspiring keynote speakers kicked off the conference:
Ruby Maddox, Assistant Director for the Miller Worley Center for the Environment at Mt. Holyoke College,
Melissa Honeywood, Food Service Director Cambridge Public Schools, and
Niaz Dorry, Coordinating Director of the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance.

Each speaker, offering her unique perspective, reminded us of three basic, but indispensable truths.

1. Farm to school (and sea to school) programs rely on connections and relationships.
Collaborations among teachers, food service directors, farmers, fisherman, and the larger community are vital to successful farm to school programs. No one person can create a farm to school program. We need support from three main sectors: cafeteria, classroom and community.

2. Cultivate student advocates.
Invite students to be part of the conversation. Ask them to submit ideas for school gardens and recipes for your lunched. Empower them to make good choices and celebrate the successes when they do.

3. It's all about the kids.
When we are faced with challenges, remember that everything we do is for the children in our community. For some inspiration watch the video below!

Following the keynote addresses, presenters from Massachusetts and surrounding areas shared information, success stories, recipes and much more. Representatives from the Somerville Farm to School Project along with Groundwork Somerville, USDA Food and Nutrition Service and Williamsburg Public Schools led workshops on two important topics: Farm to School Curriculum Connections and Funding Farm to School. For a full list of sessions visit the conference website.

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