FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 10/22/2019
Contact: Sylvia Crum
Director of Communications and Development
Bristol Virginia Public Schools and Appalachian Sustainable Development incorporating locally grown and raised foods into school nutrition programs
ABINGDON, Va. – Bristol Virginia Public Schools have been awarded $25,000 from the Virginia State Department of Education Farm to School Grant program to incorporate locally grown and raised foods into school nutrition programs while connecting students to agriculture through hands-on learning and career exploration.
In collaboration with Appalachian Sustainable Development (ASD), the Farm to School pilot project will allow four schools to expand the size of existing fruit and vegetable gardens to increase their production capacity. As garden programming is adopted throughout the school division, increased amounts of produce from school gardens will be provided to students during snack time and lunch service. Through hands-on production experiences and Harvest of the Month curriculum integration, students will gain exposure to new flavors and will have increased opportunities to try new, healthy foods.
“As Bristol Virginia Public Schools moves toward a project based instructional model, these gardens will provide an excellent opportunity for our students to learn important concepts while developing skills that will last a lifetime,” stated Dr. Keith Perrigan, Bristol Virginia Public Schools Superintendent.
ASD will launch the pilot with an assessment of each school’s resources and will recommend appropriate plant selections and crop specific harvesting techniques designed to ensure success of the pilot. ASD will teach agriculture specific topics to internal stakeholders and encourage them to consider goals and expectations in relation to garden management and program adoption. Participants will learn basic garden maintenance, the details of seasonality and will unify existing programming. Over the course of a series of workshops they will also develop their own curriculum to encompass all components of successful Farm to School Programming.
To ensure that the project has long-term sustainability, ASD will provide additional professional development opportunities for teachers and school garden teams as well as provide administrators and parents with training and education. Individual school teams will develop their own sustainability plan, likely including a combination of plans for fundraising, a grant-writing component, installation, maintenance and expansion plans.
To expand access to more fresh, healthy produce to students and their families, ASD will also offer training on how to utilize SNAP benefits: https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program, at farmers markets and on how to start growing gardens at home. Teachers will also be instructed on how to make critical connections between garden activities and the Virginia Standards of Learning to help students articulate garden activities in academic language that meets relevant learning standards.
About Appalachian Sustainable Development (ASD)
Nationally known and respected for its commitment to local farmers, Appalachian Sustainable Development is transitioning Appalachia to a more resilient economy and a healthier population by supporting local agriculture, exploring new economic opportunities and connecting people to healthy food.
Since 1995, Appalachian Sustainable Development (ASD) has been working in 15 counties in Central Appalachia. ASD’s reach has since expanded to include partners in eastern WV and KY and southeast Ohio. ASD uses six strategies to accomplish its work: education, increasing local food production, developing markets, increasing distribution of local agriculture products, engaging strategic partners, and researching/consulting and advising. ASD operates programs that create jobs in farming and agriculture and address food insecurity. For more information about ASD go to www.asdevelop.org, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.