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Adirondack Farm to School

Willsboro Central School grows spinach for their cafeteria.

Willsboro Central School grows spinach for their cafeteria on a grow cart in one of their classrooms.

AFES student looks at growing sweet potato slips in the classroom.

AFES student looks at growing sweet potato slips in the classroom

First graders prepare soil pods to plant in their grow cart.
Image by Meghan Brooks

First graders prep soil pods for planting peas.

Students show their differing opinions after a taste-test of local beets!
Image by Meghan Brooks

Students taste-test locally grown beets in the classroom!

Pollinator garden installation
Image by Kye Perry

Westport Summer Youth Program after installing a pollinator garden.

Farm to School

What is Farm to School?

Farm to School initiatives are popping up throughout New York and all over the country – in day care centers, in public and private schools, and in colleges and universities. These programs focus on featuring locally grown, healthy foods in school meals. They often also include other components such as classroom lessons on food and nutrition; visits to farms and farmers’ markets; creation of school gardens, and the support of school-based community supported agriculture (CSA) programs.

What is Local?

Local means many different things to different people. To some, local could be within a 30 mile radius, where other organizations have expanded that radius to 400 miles! Some organizations do not qualify something as local based on the distance traveled, but by whether the product was made in that state, or surrounding states. According to New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, "local" refers to any product grown or produced in the state of New York. We recommend our local schools aim to buy within the Adirondack Park as their first choice, then extend to 150 mile radius, and finally if unable to find the product within that range, to search all of NY State. 

The 3 C's of Farm to School

  • Cafeteria - Serving local produce in school meals
  • Classroom - Teaching students about the importance of agriculture
  • Community - Involving the collective wisdom of the community, helping the farmers and families that live in the community gain a stronger connection to the schools through field trips, lectures, and other events.

Benefits of Farm to School

Research shows Farm to School provides a multitude of benefits.

  • Prepares children to learn: Diet quality and nutritional status are associated with a child’s ability to focus and learn. By providing fresh, nutritious and delicious schools meals, a student’s academic performance may be enhanced.
  • Improves health and well-being: Establishing healthy diets in childhood – those rich in a diversity of fruits and vegetables – is important for life-long well-being. Farm to School, with its focus on a well-balanced diet including fresh, minimally processed fruits and vegetables, offers schools an exciting way to positively impact children’s health and well-being throughout their lives.
  • Strengthens the local economy: By supporting local farmers and distributors, schools help keep and re-circulate dollars in the local economy. Also, any purchase of New York State product contributes to the NYS tax base, which in turn, funds NYS public schools.
  • Building healthy communities: By connecting health concerns, education and local farmers and processors, NYS Farm to School can help to:

✔ Address diet-related problems among our youth

✔ Develop an appreciation for the importance of agriculture

✔ Preserve open-space and the natural environment

✔ Promote strong community food security networks

Thank you to NYS Dept.of Ag.& Markets for this information.


Meghan Dohman, M.S.
Farm to Institution Resource Educator
518-962-4810 x405

Last updated March 5, 2024