The Northeast Farm to School Institute

Interested in Learning More?

Are you working to expand Farm to School at your school or Early Childhood Center? Reach out to Andrew Deaett with the Upper Valley Farm to School Network to learn more about the NE Farm to School Institute and applying for 2024! Andrew can be reached at andrew@vitalcommunities.org.    “Andrew has been amazing! He has kept us on task and is a great supporter, asking clarifying questions.”   “He is subjective and unbiased and has an amazing way of pointing us in the right direction & but allowing us to steer our own ship.”   Check out these downloadable files to see or how you could use the Farm to School & Early Childhood Rubric to assess opportunities for your program, and what the creation of an Action Plan might look like for your team. You can also take a minute to watch the video below from our friends at Vermont FEED to sneak a peek into what being at the Farm to School Institute’s Summer Retreat is like!

Take Aways

There is so much to be gained from coming together in spaces like this with shared goals, and creative new ways of achieving those goals that emerge when we all contribute our unique perspectives and ideas. Here is some of what the Barre team took away from the retreat and coaching experience!     “We already had a plan to tie FTS topics into all of our subject’s curriculum, but what we have done this week has broadened the scope of what we want to implement.”     “Gained a great understanding of how to implement a farm to school plan, specifically focusing on how it aligns with our value statement.”

Place Based Art

Participants had a chance to not only connect with one another and the space, but also had chances to connect with lessons that they could bring back to their students! By going through learning journeys themselves, and having the opportunity to create things like the piece here, school team members get a chance to experience what their students will experience during placed based education.  

Pasture Walk

A highlight for Andrew was the Pasture Walk and Place-Based Art Learning Journey hosted by Shelburne Farms staff member Courtney Mulcahy, Sarah Webb, and Sam Dixon.       Shelburne Farms staff member Sam Dixon explores pasture with participants

Learning Journeys

When teams are not busy building relationships and working on their action plans, there is ample time to go on learning journeys at the farm, find a moment of quiet sitting by the shores of Lake Champlain, eat fabulous meals, and get inspired by the wealth of knowledge and experience from a diverse list of guest speakers and presenters.    

Crafting Values Statements

There is a lot to love about the Barre Team, and Andrew finds their gifts really shine through the Farm to School Values statement they created during the summer kickoff retreat: “The Barre Unified Union School District is committed to Farm to School programming that supports student growth in a holistic approach with the goal of empowering students to become stewards of the BUUSD community and beyond. Through this commitment we will promote safety, empathy, and inclusivity that will promote student growth and engagement. We believe through this we will increase access to food security, health and wellness education while celebrating our local food system.” 

Meet the Barre Team!

With the goal of integrating Farm to School into school culture, teams must have individuals from: district-level administration, teachers, and school nutrition/food service.   From Left to Right: Jennifer Hutchinson, Alyssa Pratt, Lea Buel, Andrew Deaett   The Barre team includes:    Jennifer Hutchinson – District Manager of Food programs  Lea Buel – School Nutrition Specialist & Cook    Alyssa Pratt – Student Support Specialist  Jason Derner – Alternative Education Administrator  Brandi Cummings – Home School Coordinator 

Coaching and Action Team Model

What makes the Northeast Farm to School Institute so successful is the combination of a school team, action planning, and coaching.    Farm to school action planning: During the program, participants develop a values-based, school-wide farm to school action plan that integrates curriculum, local procurement, youth voice, and family and community connections.  Coaching: Teams are paired with an experienced coach from their state’s farm to school or early childhood network. You’ll have communication and meetings with this coach throughout the school year to assist you in implementing and adapting your action plan to meet the changing needs of your school.    Photo Credit: NOFA-VT   This summer, Andrew had the privilege of working with Kayla Strom from NOFA-VT to co-coach the Barre Unified Union School District team.

Summer Kickoff

In late June nine Farm to School Teams gathered on the shores of Lake Champlain at Shelburne Farms for the Northeast Farm to School Institute kickoff retreat. Over the three-day retreat, school teams had the rare opportunity to immerse themselves in relationship building, learning journeys, and the development of a Farm to School action plan to bring back to their school for the 2023-2024 school year.     The Institute, hosted by Vermont FEED, is a unique year-long professional learning opportunity for selected school, district, or early childhood teams from New England and New York. For many folks working in education, the institute is a chance to slow down, connect, and immerse themselves in creative ways of thinking about Farm to School outside the usual boundaries of tight deadlines and time constraints.