Fork Farms Virtual Training

This summer, the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network (LFN) has partnered with Flex Farms to offer an online virtual training for one hour on Thursday, June 22, 2023 at 9am (Central).

Watch this 1-hour virtual training here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfurJW2UtA0

Additional Resources Shared:

Guest speaker, Kit Collins from Fork Farms offers the following:

1) An overview of Flex Farm resources – curriculum, videos, and more through their learning portal

2) Best practices – cleaning, maintenance, how to get funding

3) How to get the most use out of your flex farm during the school year

4) Ideas to utilize the Flex Farms to integrate Agriculture and Nutrition education in the classroom and cafeteria – what are others doing? How are you using your harvest in the cafeteria, classroom, taste tests, etc…

5) Photo journal 📓 keeping track of progress, results, and sharing your story (we want to feature Farm to School partners in our next NWTN Local Food Guide. 

The LFN is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization serving as a catalyst for a thriving and equitable local food system that is accessible by all in Northwest Tennessee. We have been partnering with Tennessee school districts to strengthen their farm to school programs.

InClassroom Resources

What do Plants Need to Survive, “Learn, Grow, Eat and Go” — Season 1, Episode 1

Above is a 28-minute long video; however, to learn about “What do Plants Need to Survive” take a moment with your students to watch minute 1:22-3:05.

Create a School Garden Planting Calendar:  Creating a calendar to help us remember to take care of plant needs is a good idea. Which  happens most often on your garden calendar – watering, weeding or feeding?

Jr. Master Gardener Program => Grow. Eat. Go. Student Gardening Journal with Bonus Pages (including taste tests)

Download Weekly/Daily Hydroponics Educational Systems Chart

Indoor Seed Germinating Activity => Rockwool vs. Cotton Balls? – a seed germination experiment

Rockwool has to be ordered and if you don’t have any for your hydroponic systems, you can use the alternative – cotton! Cotton is a commodity crop in Tennessee and is easily attainable. Make sure to get 100% cotton for this experiment.

Taste Test Guide (cabbage, kale, swiss chard, mixed greens): This Taste Test Guide has the information, curriculum, and recipes needed for schools and cafeterias to implement Harvest of the Month taste tests.

Download our FREE Taste of TN Harvest of the Month Posters – Download our Free Printable and Shareable Posters for your Classroom or Cafeteria – designed with love from Tennessee students.

Our top Hydroponic Curriculum Picks

Junior Master Gardeners Program: There are a great list of resources, free printables, activities, questions and more.

We LOVE KidsGardening.Org. The Kids Garden Community is a free online community supporting individuals, families, and organizations with the skills, tools, and connections to gardening with kids and scale transformative programs. Sign-up for FREE and ask questions, get answers and resources.

Hydroponics – Plant Science, Getting Started

Hydroponics, in its simplest form, is growing plants by supplying all necessary nutrients in the plants’ water supply rather than through the soil. Here are some basic hydroponic systems, as well as growing tips.

DIY Hydroponics – GRADE LEVEL: PRESCHOOL, K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12

The idea of growing plants in nontraditional ways like by using hydroponics techniques can really capture kids’ attention and get them excited about gardening. Prefabricated hydroponic units can be pricy, so this activity provides information about designing DIY options that may be a little more economical.

The Plant Soil Relationship – Grade Level: 3-5

Students will learn: 1) Soil helps anchor plants and provides them essential elements of water and nutrients. 2)Plants prevent soil erosion and provide organic matter.

Grow with the Flow – Grade Level: 5-9

This 10 session project-based curriculum includes simple instructions for constructing 2 different types of hydroponic units, setting plants, observing growth, and harvesting. Entomology, physics, social studies, marketing, math, nutrition and careers in horticulture, are integrated into the basic plant science focus. These projects allow for a balanced approach with group and individual activities. 

Soil vs. Water: Exploring Hydroponics – Grade Level: 6-8th, 9th – 12th

Students will:

  • Review what plants need to grow
  • Explore how traditional soil-based gardening techniques provide for plant needs
  • Explore how hydroponic growing techniques provide for plant needs
  • Conduct an experiment to observe differences between traditional and hydroponic growing techniques

Additional Resources: Food Safety

Good Agriculture Practices for Handling Lettuce

Good Agriculture Practices for Sprouts

Food Safety on the Farm – Water Handling

Guide to Washing Fresh Produce

E. coli prevention control in Fresh Produce

Funding Resources:

Urban Agriculture and Innovation Production (UAIP) competitive grants initiate or expand efforts of farmers, gardeners, citizens, government officials, schools, and other stakeholders in urban areas and suburbs. Projects may target areas of food access; education; business and start-up costs for new farmers; and development of policies related to zoning and other needs of urban production.

USDA-NIFA Food Safety Outreach Competitive Grant Program provides funding for food safety training and education for small and mid-sized producers and processors affected by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

Patrick Leahy Farm to School Grant Program (open October – January)

The Food and Agriculture Service Learning Program‘s purpose is to increase the knowledge of agricultural science and improve the nutritional health of children. The program’s goal is to increase the capacity for food, garden, and nutrition education within host organizations or entities, such as school cafeterias and classrooms, while fostering higher levels of community engagement between farms and school systems by bringing together stakeholders from distinct parts of the food system. The initiative is part of a broader effort to not only increase access to school meals for low-income children, but also to dramatically improve their quality.