Inspired About Connecting Farms with Schools

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Guest post courtesy of the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project

ASAP is inspired. We’re inspired by the efforts of the many great organizations featured here, and by all of you who have shown support for our work. We’re also deeply inspired by our partners. This campaign has given us the opportunity  to reflect back on the pilot portion of our Farm to School Education Project in Jackson County, which is discussed in our video and was funded through the generous support of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation. The Inspired campaign led us to ask, “Where would our project be now without the BCBSNC Foundation and without the partners who jumped on board with us—no questions asked (well, hardly any!)—right from the start?”

There is no road map when it comes to integrating Farm to School into education and health science courses of study. Yet professors, teachers, faculty, and students at Western Carolina University and Jackson County Public Schools embraced our idea of working “upstream,” training pre-service students and nutritionists in Farm to School programming so they could incorporate the methods from day one of their careers. These partners have offered vital assistance, support, insight, and guidance along the way. They have embraced this approach and are now fully engaged in spreading the benefits of Farm to School. Their enthusiasm is affirming, and they certainly deserve a big thanks from us.

Sarah Malcolm, who participated in the pilot as a Western Carolina University student and who is interviewed for our Inspired story, recently shared with us that she feels the Farm to School portfolio she created helped her secure her first teaching job.

Again, this is wonderfully affirming. What’s more, the success means we get to continue this exciting work! We get to continue working with Western Carolina University and Jackson County Public Schools, to continue learning from them. And, we get to begin another project—one which has grown from the seed of our pilot project to a full-fledged new approach. Currently, schools throughout our region are submitting their proposals to receive funding to become Growing Minds Schools—schools just like those in Jackson County, where Farm to School is front-and-center in the classroom and cafeteria. We can’t wait!

If you’ve not watched our Inspired video, we hope you will, and that you’ll share our story with others. To learn more about this work and our new project, visit www.growing-minds.org, and follow ASAP on Facebook (Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project) and Twitter (asapconnections).