|Southern SAWG Newsletter Volume 6, #4
Healthy food for kids, and the Farm-to-School movement, are in the public forefront right now. From chef Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, a new television series that boasted seven million viewers for its debut episode, to the Senate Agriculture Committee's unanimous bipartisan approval of the child nutrition reauthorization bill (Healthy Hunger-Free Kids' Act of 2010) on March 24, many Americans are embracing the idea that we need to feed our children (and maybe adults too) better food. The bill, which increases spending on nutrition programs by $4.5 billion over the next ten years, including for school meals and the Women, Infants and Children's (WIC) nutrition program, does still have to wend its way through the legislative process before final passage.
One state has already passed significant legislation on healthy food for kids. In this issue, we feature Virginia's movement forward in this revolution, including an official Farm-to-School Week, and an impressive Farm-to-School Program.
By the way, spring training isn't just for baseball! Several organizations have partnered with Southern SAWG in North Carolina, Alabama, and Oklahoma to provide free (yes, free) workshops on timely topics such as CSA development and management, high tunnel growing, and management intensive grazing. Read on for details.
Remember to keep in touch. If you have photos of your farm or farmers' market, stories or resources that are of interest to our sustainable farming and food community, and events to share, write to us. You might turn up in the next newsletter!
--Your friends at Southern SAWG
|Virginia is for Lovers... of local food for kids!|
Farm-toSchool Program generates 300 percent increase in local foods in school
The Virginia General Assembly recently passed a resolution with unanimous consent that officially establishes the second week of November as Virginia Farm-to-School Week. In addition, the resolution recognizes the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Virginia Department of Education, Virginia Food Systems Council, and Virginia Farm-to-School Work Group for their many contributions to help develop, promote, and implement Virginia's Farm-to-School Program.
"This is a beginning step in changing the quality of school nutrition while providing economic opportunities for our farming community and strengthening farm-to-table connections throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia," said Christopher Carpenter, Special Projects Coordinator for Washington & Lee University, and Vice-Chair of the Virginia Food Systems Council.
In 2009, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Virginia Department of Education and Virginia Farm-to-School Work Group coordinated the first Farm-to-School Week, with 36 different locally grown Virginia foods featured as healthy choices on school menus across the state.
"Virginia's Farm-to-School Program is a true win-win," said Delegate Ed Scott. "Our students benefit from being served fresh, local food at school. These same schools represent a significant new market opportunity for Virginia farmers."
Since 2007, when the General Assembly established a task force to develop a plan for a Farm-to-School Program in Virginia, there has been a 300 percent increase in locally grown foods served in public and private schools. Virginia public schools serve 681,505 lunches daily. If $0.25 a day per student lunch is devoted to purchasing locally grown Virginia farm products, a total of $170,376 would be generated daily, and more than $30.7 million would be reinvested annually in Virginia communities and the economy.
|Southern SARE Seeks Representatives for the Administrative Council |
Application Deadline is June 1, 2010
The Administrative Council of the Southern Region Sustainable Agriculture Research Education (SARE) Program is seeking three producers, one agribusiness representative, and one quality of life representative to join the Council for a three-year term beginning February, 2011. Nominees must be familiar with sustainable agriculture and its impact on the environment and rural communities. Nominees representing women in agriculture, minorities, and farm laborers are especially welcome, as are self nominations. Currently, the Administrative Council lacks representation in sustainable poultry and dairy.
The Administrative Council is the governing body of the Southern SARE program and is made up of seven producers, three NGO representatives, one agribusiness representative, one quality of life representative and a number of 1862, 1890, federal and state governmental agency
representatives. The Administrative Council depends on outstanding nominees that you and your colleagues from across the region may put forward, including self nominations.
The new Council members will serve a three-year term beginning in February 2011. Duties of the Administrative Council include attendance at two council meetings each year, February and August. Each meeting is expected to last two days.
To be considered, your nomination must be received by June 1, 2010. For more information about the AC and the nomination process, and the address for submission, click here.
|Our Community Loses a Friend
For thousands of children, Roy Riddle was the face of the South Plains Food Bank Farm in Lubbock, Texas, and a strong advocate for youth empowerment in agriculture. Many in the Southern sustainable food and farming community knew Farmer Roy, who was a longstanding regular at Southern SAWG conferences.
Roy, who died on Wednesday, March 24, 2010, managed the farm for the South Plains Food Bank Farm, and seemed to have a positive impact on all who knew him.
Southern SAWG's executive assistant, Julia Sampson, who always looked forward to seeing Roy at conferences and events in his signature overalls, says, "Although Roy was blessed with an abundance of years, he was quite young at heart."
Jenifer Smith, of the South Plains Food Bank, relates the story of a Southern SAWG field trip that Roy was on several years ago that took participants to an apple orchard. The South Plains Food Bank Farm includes an orchard of 1,200 donated fruit trees, so this trip was of particular interest to him. In the orchard, the farmer described a particular pest, which Roy recognized as a threat at the SPFB Farm orchard. He was able to research and find a remedy, and, as Jenifer says, he saved their orchard.
For the past 10 years his passion has been a South Plains Food Bank program called GRUB (Growing Recruits for Urban Business), which uses the farm and orchard as a setting to teach children from low-income families life skills and job skills that they can carry forward into their adult lives.
Roy Riddle will certainly be missed, but he leaves a rich legacy of service and accomplishment.
|High Tunnel Production Workshop|
April 25-26, 2010
This free workshop offers an intensive learning experience that will cover the nuts and bolts of year-round production in hoophouses. Instructors Alison and Paul Wiediger of Au Naturel Farm are pioneers in hoophouse production and now have over a dozen years of experience growing "under cover." They will teach you how to set up a hoophouse and get maximum yield and profit from your crops.
Topics will include:
Structure designs and options
Soil health and preparation
Season extension and off-season production
Brought to you through a partnership between the Alabama Sustainable Agriculture Network (ASAN) and Southern SAWG.
|Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Workshop|
May 13, 2010
Pembroke, North Carolina
CSAs are an appealing and viable marketing option for many farmers, but operating a
successful CSA takes much more than the ability to produce good food. This course
will help you learn if the CSA model is right for you (even if you already have a CSA) and
will provide essential information on how to operate a successful CSA.
The presenter, Elizabeth Henderson, of Peacework Farm, has been operating a CSA for 20 years and literally wrote the book on CSAs. The groundbreaking first edition of Sharing the Harvest, published in 1999, helped spur the growing popularity of CSAs in the U.S.
§ Distribution options
§ Blending markets
§ Growing pains
§ Creating a core group
§ Pros and cons of CSA
§ Design options
§ Getting started
§ Customers for life
§ Crop planning
§ Producing weekly harvests
§ Maintaining product quality
§ Involving low-income CSA members
Cost: Training is free; lunch is $20.00
To register or for more information contact Cynthia Hayes ; 912.495.0591.
The CSA training is hosted by American Indian Mothers (AIM), and made possible through a partnership between AIM, the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, the Risk Management Agency (RMA) of the USDA, and the Southeastern African American Farmers Organic Network (SAAFON).
Free Management Intensive Grazing of Beef Workshop
May 26, 2010
Photo courtesy of Ron Morrow.
Want to go from your pasture to the bank? As the health benefits of pastured beef become more well known, the demand is rapidly growing. This workshop is designed to help you produce healthy pastures, high-value beef, and put more money in your pockets.
Presenters Ann Wells, of Springpond Holistic Animal Health and Ozark Pasture Beef, and Emily King, of Heifer International and River Grass Farm, will cover topics of key importance in this one-day workshop, including:
This free workshop is made possible through a partnership between the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, the Risk Management Agency (RMA) of the USDA, and Heifer International.
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|Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, Inc. (Southern SAWG) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 1991 to promote sustainable agriculture in the Southern United States.