A national program, Farm to School creates a sustainable market for Floyd farmers and teaches our children how fresh food is grown and produced.
Our goal is for Floyd County farmers to supply a minimum of 20 – 40% of the food served in the school cafeterias each day, creating revenue for farmers and ensuring fresh, nutritious food to our schoolchildren – and all while avoiding high transportation costs and greenhouse gas emissions!
Floyd County celebrates Farm to School week this year with all five public schools receiving regular deliveries of fresh food grown by local farmers – including a class of third graders at Check Elementary School.
The program has grown from humble beginnings a few years ago to include an array of community partners, including the Floyd Healthy Community Team, New River Valley Community Services, Plenty!, SustainFloyd, Virginia Cooperative Extension and others.
The first Farm to School project – a potato planting and digging involving local elementary school students – continued this year with 2nd graders from Check Elementary School traveling to Old Millstone Farm to plant Kennebec potatoes earlier this spring. In early October, the same students, now third graders taught by Kimberly Keith and Karen Stump, returned to dig the potatoes and visit the farm’s pigs. Bryan and Lynette Vest – both products of the Floyd County school system – hosted the trip.
“We had a great time and hope this will become an annual event!” said Kimberly Keith.
Additionally, the Vests are participating in an expanded delivery system to school cafeterias. Earlier this spring, the Farm to School program helped provide Indian Valley Elementary School with monthly deliveries of fresh, local vegetables.
Starting this fall, however, all five county schools are receiving regular shipments of fresh Floyd County produce. Potatoes from Old Millstone Farm are delivered to all five county schools once a month, and apples from Wade’s Orchard are delivered to the five schools twice a month. Additionally, lettuce from Black Sheep Farm and spinach from Fertile Crescent Farm will be delivered twice a month to the four elementary schools.
For Farm to School week, Floyd County Schools will also serve hamburger from Old Millstone Farm.
The farms all are required to adhere to the USDA’s Good Agricultural Practices and cafeteria managers at each school give regular feedback on produce quality. Additionally, the Farm to School team meets regularly with school officials to handle any issues that may arise and to plan for the future.
Enjoy the video below showing a 2010 Farm to School outing when fifth-grade classes in Floyd County participated in a potato harvest. You should have heard the oohs and ahhs when the kids saw their first purple potato!
Childhood and School Food Initiatives in Floyd
SustainFloyd has been working over the last three years on Farm To School, working with the school system in various ways. We have assisted the schools in purchasing local produce for the state-wide Farm To School week each year. In addition, we organize and sponsor the annual Potato Project where elementary school students assist in planting potatoes on a local farm and more return the following fall to harvest. These potatoes are then served in the cafeterias system wide.
Recently, SF organized a “corn grinding day” at Indian Valley School where local corn was shelled, ground on a specially configured grinder attached to a bicycle and then winnowed in the wind. The cornmeal will be used in the school cafeteria to make cornbread for the students. SF continues its Farm To School work in cooperation with other community efforts.
Plenty!’s purpose is nourishing community and feeding hungry neighbors by growing, sharing and teaching.
We value freshness in produce and program,
- generosity where everyone gives and receives,
- connecting to each and every person,
- preserving Floyd County’s land and culture.
Program areas are:
- Food Bank, Farm & Gardens, Schools and Gatherings.
- In the schools we provide healthy snacks, create and teach in school gardens, distribute fresh veggies to preschoolers and partner with culinary and agriculture students.
The Floyd County Healthy Community Action Team was developed in 2012 with the goal of raising awareness and gaining support from the community to ensure that the health of children in Floyd County was being addressed. From that the Healthy Community Action Plan group grew and is developing strategies to achieve this goal. Currently in the works is a list of community resources to be distributed at community events and activities. One of the messages we will be sharing is 5210; Eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, limit screen time to 2 hours or less, get 1 hour or more of physical activity daily and include 0 sugary drinks, more water and low-fat milk, in your daily diet.
Childhood Obesity Prevention Program. Floyd County has long worked to reduce obesity in the area. In 2010, The Floyd County MD Team received a grant from the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth to develop a strategic plan on childhood obesity in the county. The plan, completed in January 2012, calls for “a comprehensive approach to obesity prevention that includes improving physical activity patterns, nutrition, access to healthy foods, food and beverage marketing, school policies, and the physical environment within the community.” The long-term goal of the plan is to reduce childhood obesity in the county by 10% by 2017. The Floyd MD Team has developed multiple community partners over the last year to implement anti-obesity work at elementary schools, the farmers market, and other various community organizations.
The Floyd MD team is currently working with the School Health Advisory Board on a survey that will give baseline nutrition and fitness information for kindergarten to 6th grade.
· Floyd’s Healthy Community Action Team (HCAT) is working with a VFHY grant to increase Farm to School. Local produce is being delivered to IVES. The HCAT is working to have fresh, local produce in four county schools in the 2013-2014 school year.
· Floyd’s HCAT is increasing Farm to School education in the schools. Last week, a Farm to School workshop was held at IVES. In spring and fall 2013, CES students will participate in field trips to plant and harvest vegetables.
· Fall 2012, a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program was completed at Willis Elementary. With the help of Cooperative Extension, Plenty!, Fertile Crescent Farms, and Floyd County High School’s culinary arts class, each preschool family received 5 deliveries of fresh local produce. The post surveys indicated that over a 10 week period, 92% of the preschoolers became more willing to try new foods at home, 83% of the families ate more fruits and vegetables at home, 66% of the preschoolers helped more often with the preparation of snacks and meals, and 50% of the families tried the healthy recipes provided. WES will continue the CSA program this spring. In addition, FES will begin the program in spring 2013.
· School gardens are in operation in four of the county schools.
· Lactation rooms have been established at FCHS, FES, IVES, and WES for lactating school staff. In addition to the schools, other local businesses have been supplied with pumps, refrigerators and chairs to create comfortable lactation rooms. The primary partners involved were the New River Health District, the Floyd County Multidisciplinary Team, the Floyd County Healthy Community Action Team and Smart Beginnings New River Valley.