The FARMS Farm-to-School Program is an integrative, educational enrichment program in Lincoln County, Maine that engages school-age children, their families, and their communities in a lifestyle of healthier eating choices. We achieve this goal in part by working directly with children in elementary schools and camps by offering fun, hands-on taste tests, cooking classes and clubs, and organic gardening education. Students learn the life-long skills of how to grow and cook nutritious food, and about the health, environmental, and economical benefits that come from supporting local agriculture.
Farm-to-School programs are getting started in schools throughout the country because they are an important and powerful way to reach children with hands-on activities that are life changing and central to addressing health concerns. FARMS is a well-established and recognized organization that has benefitted from our positive relationships and collaboration with local farmers, schools, small businesses, camps, Master Gardeners, and families. FARMS offers programming in Lincoln County at Wiscasset Primary School, Wiscasset Middle School, Edgecomb Eddy School, and all five schools in AOS #93 (Bristol Consolidated School, Great Salt Bay School, Jefferson Village School, Nobleboro Central School, and South Bristol School).
FARMS works directly with teachers, School Health Coordinators and Curriculum Directors to integrate our work into existing curriculum. In addition, we direct gardening programs at Kieve Camp for Boys and The Leadership School in Nobleboro, and Wavus Camp for Girls in Jefferson. FARMS provides a hands-on gardening curriculum for campers and works with the kitchen staff to grow and incorporate produce into the cafeterias’ meal plans.
FARMS has been supported by Maine Health Access Foundation (MeHAF), Rising Tide Community Market, The Morris Farm Trust, Maine Agriculture in the Classroom, and many generous, local citizens.
In the 2012-2013 school year, FARMS conducted over 200 Taste Tests in classrooms! FARMS conducts classroom and school-wide taste tests where students are exposed to and learn how to cook with a variety of fresh, local, seasonal foods. Based on survey results, new recipes are then incorporated into the school lunch menus.
FARMS has facilitated the direct purchase between schools and 9 local farms! FARMS works with farmers and school kitchen staff to ensure a good price for the producers and keep food costs within school budgets.
FARMS teaches workshops on cooking with local food for food service staff. FARMS held a “Kalicious Workshop” which resulted in many schools preparing and serving local Kale Chips.
FARMS manages gardens at 5 schools and 2 camps! FARMS educates and engages students and their families and campers and their counselors in organic gardening methods, and donates all produce to families, school and camp cafeterias, and food drives.
FARMS organizes classroom field trips to local farmers markets and farms. Students receive market money and work together as a class to choose produce to buy and cook with it once they return to the classroom.
FARMS invites local farmers to visit classrooms. FARMS works with teachers and the farmers to connect farming concepts with school curriculum.
- FARMS Community Kitchen has conducted 89 cooking classes for school groups, 21 after-school classes, and 20 summer classes since our doors opened in December of 2014. Forty-two adult cooking classes and 18 Healthy Living/Diabetes classes have been offered as well.
- FARMS works with local food pantries providing cooking demonstrations, taste tests, and recipes. During the course of 27 visits, clients have learned how to cook with fresh, local vegetables and received important nutritional information.