Maine Partners Launch Maine Farm to School Institute with Support from National Institute of Food and Agriculture Service Learning Grant

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GARDINER – A new Maine Farm to School institute for rural middle and high schools will focus on sourcing local foods and developing student leadership in food and agriculture.

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture of the United States Department of Agriculture has awarded the University of Maine School of Food and Agriculture and the Maine Farm to School Network of Healthy Communities of the Capital Area a service learning grant of nearly $ 225,000 to lead the creation of the first annual Maine Farm to School Institute program. Sub-recipients include UMaine Cooperative Extension, Maine Agriculture in the Classroom, ReTreeUs, and Cumberland County Food Security Council.

More than a dozen partner organizations will support the project by providing training and technical assistance including schools in Falmouth, FoodCorps Maine, Maine Department of Education Child Nutrition, Maine School Garden Network, etc.
Inspired by Shelburne Farms’ Northeast Farm to School Institute, the Maine Farm to School Institute will help schools implement a community-based farm-to-school program promoting food education and school food safety, including school gardens and local food. Participating schools will attend a 3-day workshop in August 2022 at the Riverbend Farm School of Ecology in Saco.

“Right now, schools in Maine are going to Vermont for a full farm-to-school support program,” says Stephanie Cesario, Maine Farm to School Network Coordinator and Institute Coordinator based at Healthy Communities of the Capital Area. “By creating this annual program here in Maine, schools will be immersed in Maine-specific agricultural and marine resources and professional and school networks.”

For more information about the Institute, contact the Maine Farm to School Network Coordinator [email protected] and visit http://www.mainefarmtoschool.org/institute.

This work is supported by USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Food and Agriculture Service Learning Program grant 2021-70026-35911


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