Windham County Farm to School Celebration was a Success!

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Our Farm to School Celebration on October 11 was a success! Thanks to all the Farm to School champions from the area who joined us. We had 25 attendees representing food service, education, and administration from schools across the county. Our participants enjoyed an evening of inspiring stories, networking, and delicious food in a beautiful setting! Thanks to the Retreat Farm for allowing us to hold the event in their gorgeous space and to Tito’s Taqueria for catering a tasty taco bar featuring local produce donated by Harlow Farm. And finally, thank you to our sponsor, the Farm to School Network, for allowing us to host this wonderful event.

We learned so much great information from our speakers! Ali West, food service director for the Brattleboro Town Schools, shared her passion for making sure all children are well nourished and that no student is stigmatized due to his or her family’s socio-economic status. She highlighted her successes with universal meals, share coolers, and Breakfast After the Bell programs in the Brattleboro Town Schools. Shane Rogers, Project Manager for Rooted in Vermont, talked about his efforts to bring the local food movement to more Vermonters by focusing on traditions in Vermont families that go back for generations, like hunting, fishing, foraging, and gardening and through his use of social media to highlight average Vermonters and his use of the #rootedinvermont hashtag. Wayne Kermenski and Jeanne Bruffee inspired us by telling the story of Hawlemont Regional Elementary School in Charlemont, MA, which, when faced by the challenge of declining enrollment, reinvented itself as a project-based learning institution with a focus on agriculture. Students have risen to the occasion, learning the value of hard work through participation in regular chores, producing their own vegetables and value added products like homemade salsa which are sold at a weekly farmer’s market at the school, and as a result behavior problems have decreased, test scores have improved, and the school has doubled in size since the program began.

In the words of some of our participants:

“All of it was wonderful really, seeing the farm, meeting people and networking and learning about all of the wonderful programs in the works!”

“It was really great to hear about what is happening locally with Farm to School.”

“I really enjoyed hearing from Wayne and Jeanne—what an inspiring story!”

If you missed it this time, no worries! We plan to do more gatherings like this in the near future. Stay tuned!