Department of Agriculture

Supporting Arkansas farmers and ranchers while ensuring safe food, fiber, and forest products for the citizens of Arkansas, the nation, and across the globe

Farm to School and Early Childhood Education Program

The Farm to School and Early Childhood Education Program connects schools, local growers, and the community to food and farm education experiences paired with healthy, locally grown food. The Program provides equitable and just programming, resources, funding, and technical assistance to schools, farmers, and partners in the local food system.

Farm to School

Farm to school enriches the connection communities have with fresh, healthy food and local food producers by changing food purchasing and education practices at schools and early care and education sites. Students gain access to healthy, local foods as well as educational opportunities such as school gardens, cooking lessons, and farm field trips. Farm to school empowers children and their families to make informed food choices while strengthening the local economy and contributing to vibrant communities. Farm to school implementation differs by location, but always includes one or more of the following: 

School Gardens: Students engage in hands-on learning through gardening and farming;
Education: Students participate in education activities related to agriculture, food, health, or nutrition; and
Procurement: Local foods are purchased, promoted, and served in the cafeteria or as a snack or taste test.

Meet Our Team

SARAH LANE
Farm to School and Early Childhood Education Program Coordinator
sarah.lane@agriculture.arkansas.gov

MARK NELSON
Farm to School Innovation Lead
AmeriCorps VISTA
mark.nelson@agriculture.arkansas.gov

KAREN REYNOLDS
Arkansas Grown & Made Program Manager
karen.reynolds@agriculture.arkansas.gov

HANNA DAVIS
State School Garden Manager
hanna.davis@agriculture.arkansas.gov

Programs

The Farm to School and Early Childhood Education Program (Program) is the facilitator of the Arkansas Farm to School Collaborative, a statewide farm to school efforts between state agencies, non-profits, schools, and farms. Further, the Program manages two programs for school gardens: the Arkansas School Garden Grant Program and the Arkansas School Garden of the Year Contest. Both school garden programs offer grant or contest funding to early care and education facilities, K-12 schools, and alternative learning environments. Another support the Program provides is information and training on local procurement. Lastly, the Program assists in the leadership of the AmeriCorps program Full Circle FarmCorps. The mission of FarmCorps to confront food insecurity and strengthen communities through farming, outreach, and teaching.

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is honored to support the goals of the Farm to School and Early Childhood Education Act and is pleased to submit the Arkansas Farm to School 2020 Annual Report. Further, the Program is excited to share a new report: Farm to School and Early Childhood Education in the USDA Southeast Region that was written in response to farm to school research and interviews with key players in the southeast of the United States.

The Department is pleased to share the Arkansas Farm to Early Childhood Education 2021 Survey Results. The survey collected responses from February 17, 2021, until March 22, 2021, and received 202 responses from child care providers and individuals throughout the state who work with children aged 0-5 years. 

Monthly Newsletters

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2021 June Newsletter
2021 May Newsletter
2021 April Newsletter
2021 March Newsletter
2021 February Newsletter
2021 January Newsletter
2020 Newsletters

Upcoming Trainings

Summer Professional Development Sessions

The Farm to School Team is offering eight farm to school professional development opportunities this summer to public school teachers.

Sessions are offered through the South Central Service Cooperative and the Wilbur D. Mills Education Service Cooperative.

Educators will receive professional development credit for attending.

Multiple dates and times will be offered for each session.

The Basics of Farm to School: Are you someone who likes to provide hands-on innovative learning opportunities for your students? Join this session to learn about farm to school opportunities such as school gardens, cooking lessons, and farm field trips.

This is the beginning level course and is recommended to anyone who is new to the concept or is looking for a refresher.

  • July 12, 2021, 10:00 - 11:30 Zoom, Wilbur D. Mills Education Service Cooperative. Register here.

Digging Deeper - Starting a School Garden Program: School gardens are fantastic educational tools and provide students with opportunities to eat healthy foods, connect to nature, and learn about nutrition. They also provide an avenue for students to engage in hands-on learning through gardening and farming. This course is recommended to those who have base level understanding of farm to school and who are interested in developing a school garden in the upcoming 2021-2022 school year.

  • June 28, 2021, 8:30 - 11:30 a.m. In-person, South Central Service Cooperative. Register here.
  • July 13, 2021, 8:30 - 11:30 a.m. Zoom, Wilbur D. Mills Education Service Cooperative. Register here.
  • July 27, 2021, 8:30 - 11:30 In-person, South Central Service Cooperative. Register here.

Planting the Seeds of Success - Integrating Farm to School Into Your Classroom (PK-5): In farm to school, students participate in educational activities in a school garden and the classroom using lessons and curriculum tailored to agriculture, food, health, and nutrition. This course is recommended to PK-5 teachers and educators who have a base understanding of farm to school who are looking to provide classroom farm to school opportunities.

  • June 28, 2021, 12:30 - 3:30 p.m. In-person, South Central Service Cooperative. Register here.
  • July 19, 2021, 8:30 - 11:30 a.m. Zoom, Wilbur D. Mills Education Service Cooperative. Register here.

Sowing the Seeds of Success - Integrating Farm to School Into Your Classroom (6-12): In farm to school, students participate in educational activities in a school garden and the classroom using lessons and curriculum tailored to agriculture, food, health, and nutrition. This course is recommended to 6-12 teachers and educators, such as science, family and consumer science, culinary arts, and agriculture teachers who have a base understanding of farm to school who are looking to provide classroom farm to school opportunities.

  • July 19, 2021, 12:30 - 3:30 p.m. Zoom, Wilbur D. Mills Education Service Cooperative. Register here.
  • July 27, 2021, 12:30 - 3:30 p.m. In-person, South Central Service Cooperative. Register here.
Supporting, Protecting, and Growing Arkansas Agriculture and Forestry
Contact Us
1 Natural Resources Dr.
Little Rock, AR
72205
Email
(501) 225-1598