BROOKINGS, S.D. – Farmers, ranchers, gardeners and local food processors can learn strategies for growing and selling their products to school nutrition programs at the Bringing the Farm to School: Local Producer Training Jan. 18-19 in Brookings or Feb. 14-15 in Rapid City.
“When area farmers sell their products to schools, everyone wins,” said Anna Tvedt, SDSU Extension Farm to School Nutrition Field Specialist. “Farmers have a reliable market, dollars get recirculated in the community, and most importantly, students get to enjoy local, fresh, nutritious, and delicious food.”
The one-and-a-half-day trainings will be at McCrory Gardens in Brookings, and the SDSU Extension Rapid City Regional Center. Agricultural producers of all products, scales and experiences are invited to attend. The training will include information on accessing school markets and growing products for them, presentations from successful producers and child nutrition directors, networking with local peers and experts, and a site visit to a school lunchroom.
Schools offer a strong market opportunity for local producers. Approximately 150,000 students enjoy meals through the National School Lunch Program each day in South Dakota.
“If you think about it,” said Tvedt, “schools can be considered the largest restaurant in our South Dakota communities, offering local market potential for our state’s producers.”
According to a USDA Farm to School Census, 62 percent of South Dakota school districts are either participating in farm to school activities or plan to start in the future. The development of this training was funded in part with federal funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service through an agreement with the National Center for Appropriate Technology in partnership with the National Farm to School Network.
A $250 stipend is available to all producers who attend. Registration is $25 and due by Jan. 11 for the Brookings training, or by Feb. 1 for the Rapid City training. To register, visit https://extension.sdstate.edu/events and search for “farm to school”.
For more information, contact Anna Tvedt, SDSU Extension Farm to School Nutrition Field Specialist.