Our Farm to School Programs in Ventura County, CA
VCF2S coordinates F2S healthy food procurement and education activities across school districts to share resources and learnings, test and spread innovations, and leverage our collective voice and purchasing power. The value of our work has been recognized with a “Health Champion” award from the Ventura County Board of Supervisors. Our current programs and services include:
Our Programs and Services
1) Program Development and Implementation: VCF2S works with leaders in participating school districts to craft strategies and goals to implement the three pillars of farm to school: 1) local procurement, 2) education and 3) school gardens and farms. Examples of program components include local produce sourcing, scratch cooking in school cafeterias, Harvest of the Month taste testings in classrooms and cafeterias, nutrition education, agricultural education and garden-based learning
2) Training of Farm to School Champions: Support and training is provided to key stakeholders such as teachers, nutrition and garden education specialists, food service staff and parent volunteers. We equip them with the skills and resources necessary to implement farm to school programs in their school district and/or school site. We also organize tours, networking mixers, and conferences to engage a broader audience of community stakeholders in the county and surrounding region.
In October of 2016, VCF2S hosted a tri-county Growing Edible Education conference entitled “Growing Edible Education,” which brought together over 125 educators, school cafeteria staff, farmers, and community organizations. Participants visited local farms, school gardens, and school cafeterias, and learned strategies and best practices to implement scratch cooking with local produce in school meals, and incorporate agricultural and education education into the school day.
3) School Farms & Gardens: Salad Bar Farm, a VCF2S pilot project at Ventura Unified’s Balboa Middle School, broke ground in 2016. This school farm, which is poised to become self-sustaining by 2019, was developed to grow fresh fruits and vegetables for use in Ventura Unified cafeterias, and engage students in agricultural and nutrition education. This successful pilot is a model for other school districts who are interested in partnering with local farmers to convert school district land into production farms for school cafeteria use, in addition to use a an outdoor classroom.
4) Farm to School Institutionalization: VCF2S works collaboratively with farm to school champions such as administrators, food service directors, and community leaders, to support the institutionalization and integration of farm to school goals and activities into district policies, budgets, curriculum and school food service programs.
5) Local Food Hub: VCF2S, along with tri-county stakeholders, is an active participant to develop a local food hub. Conversations and planning is currently directed by The Abundant Table.
Get involved in our farm to school programs!