The Rondout Valley Growers Association (RVGA) Farm to School initiatives bring local foods into schools and connect students and community members to local food, agriculture, nutrition, cooking, and growing methods. Farm to School happens in the cafeteria, classroom, and community.
Early in 2016 RVGA partnered with Rondout Valley Central School District to create a community forum and conversation around the future of farming in the Rondout Valley, about roles our schools and students can play, and about issues such as creating food security and building a sustainable food supply. “A Bridge to the Future: Sharing Our Agricultural Bounty” drew an overflow crowd to the High School Library on a school night!
“The Rondout Valley Central School District (RVCSD) and the Rondout Valley Growers Association continue to unite local communities and farmers in sustaining our agricultural heritage. Both our organizations emphatically believe that a sustainable economy, a healthy environment and a strong community will be the pillars that support our region for years and decades to come.”
— Rosario Agostaro, Rondout Valley Central School District Superintendent
We are continuing to work with local farm to school advocate, chef, and From the Ground Up Director Nicci Cagan, through a Middle School committee to advance Farm to School in the Rondout Valley. School gardens are going in and the District has finished construction of a new greenhouse as part of its agriculture education program and Farm to School Initiative. RVGA serves as an advisor to the district and is at the ready to bring farmers into the classroom and the greenhouse to help with this exciting initiative. This fall we are coordinating a Family Farm Day for students and parents with an accompanying farm field guide to deepen the work RVGA is doing to connect the next generation and their families with where and how food is grown.
Students enjoyed pink apple sauce made from local apples. In total, the district received 829 pounds of produce through the Farm to Food Pantry Program. Items included apple sauce, broccoli, and organic blueberries.
Here is just some of what we accomplished in 2015 in Farm to School:
RVGA worked with Rondout Valley Food Service Director to bring local foods into the cafeteria.
- Led local produce tasting at Kerhonkson Elementary and Marbletown Elementary Schools
- Utilized Rondout Valley High School’s kitchen for processing local produce
- Processed local tomatoes and apples donated by farmers into tomato and apple sauce
- Gleaned Broccoli from local farms through RVGA Farm to Food Pantry Program that was processed and shared with the school district
- Participated in knife skill training as part of the Northeast Farm to School Institute grant
RVGA provided programming in the classroom to teach students about local agriculture.
- In class hummus demonstration and lesson on local food and agriculture with Kerhonkson Elementary second graders and Marbletown Elementary kindergarten and third graders
- Provided teachers with Farm to School information to display in their classrooms
- Supported development of Rondout Valley Central School District’s Agricultural and Food Science curricula
- Highlighted Farm to School at RVGA Harvest Hoedown and Local Food Barbecue widely publicized and attended by over 500 people
- Provided handouts on Farm to School to be sent home to parents at Kerhonkson and Marbletown Elementary Schools
- Raised awareness of Farm to School via Facebook posts
- Participated in National Farm to School Month
RVGA STUDENT SCHOLARSHIP AWARD
We provide an annual scholarship award to recognize a local high school graduating senior intending to study agriculture or a related field. It has been funded through a raffle at the annual barn dance and supplemented by the organization’s general funds. The scholarship opportunity is announced through the local press, social media and directly to school districts in the Rondout Valley region of Ulster County.