The Adirondack Farm to School Initiative recently awarded $3,000 in mini-grants to schools throughout the Adirondack Region to support school gardens and local-food education. Since 2012, the Initiative has worked to increase local purchasing in school cafeteria programs, build school gardens, and incorporate hands-on food and farm based curriculum into classrooms.
Funds for the grants were raised at a farm to table dinner hosted by Initiative volunteers at Fledging Crow Vegetables last October.
“Over fifty of us, including several students, shared a delicious meal among a jungle of tomato plants in the greenhouse. We are impressed by the Adirondack Farm to School Initiative’s efforts with schools and thankful to the community partners who helped make the event such a success,” said Josh Bakelaar of the Adirondack North Country Association.
The Adirondack Farm to School Initiative partners with the Healthy Heart Network, Paul Smith’s College, the Adirondack North Country Association, and the Wild Center to develop resources for schools, acquire grant funding, coordinate events, and establish connections in the local food system.
Proceeds from the event were distributed through this cycle of mini granting, providing support for the member schools already involved in the Initiative (Saranac Lake Central Schools, Lake Placid Central Schools, Tupper Lake Central Schools, and Keene Central School) as well as six additional schools. These included Schroon Lake Central School, Newcomb Central School, Indian Lake Central School, Long Lake Central School, Ticonderoga Central Schools, and Peru Central Schools. Awards ranged from $100-500 and will support utilizing whole foods in school cafeterias and school gardens, including a few year-round and indoor garden projects in our region, which has notoriously short growing seasons.
According to Ruth Pino, Director of the Initiative, “this marks a shift for the Adirondack Farm to School Initiative as the program hopes to grow into a regional support system for schools.” More and more schools in our rural communities are excited about providing tasty and nutritious local options in cafeterias while also supporting our local agricultural economy. The Adirondack Farm to School Initiative seeks to help germinate and grow these projects across the region with future fundraising and granting cycles in addition to programmatic innovation and coordination.