Support for School Garden Helps #GrowSharon, Educate, and Engage Students

Thanks to the generous support from the Northwest Tennessee [NWTN] Local Food Network, grant funds, and the Weakley County Soil Conservation District, students at Sharon School have even more opportunities to learn and participate in the cycle of food – from the ground straight to the lunch table.

Through the collaboration, Sharon School has welcomed new galvanized steel raised beds into its school garden. The tasty and nutritious vegetables grown in the garden will be harvested and served up for lunch to hungry students. The new garden beds will provide fertile ground for hands-on learning experiences in agriculture, sustainability, and nutrition. 

In addition to local support from the Soil Conservation District, a $500 GroMoreGood Grassroots grant kicked off the initiative through the NWTN Local Food Network. This grant, facilitated by the Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation and KidsGardening.org, provided the crucial funding to jumpstart this phase of the school garden project.

Samantha Goyret, Executive Director of the NWTN Local Food Network, has been instrumental in shaping the Farm to School initiative in Weakley County.  She expressed her gratitude for generous local partners.

“We are thankful to the Weakley County Soil Conservation District for this support. Working to conserve and protect soil and water resources in Weakley County through education and outreach. The partnership was the missing piece to making this project happen for Sharon School.”

-Samantha Goyret

Goyret’s passion for educating children about growing food and healthy eating habits has been instrumental as the driving force behind the program’s success. She believes in the importance of teaching students about where food comes from and healthy eating habits.

“Our goal is to not only educate children about where their food comes from but also to instill a deeper understanding of the benefits of healthy eating for themselves, their families, and our communities. By integrating the produce they grow into the school cafeteria, we create a full feedback loop that reinforces this understanding.”

Sharon School students working on cleaning up the garden.

Under the guidance of Dresden High School teacher and FFA chapter advisor Jonathan Holden, Dresden FFA students built, loaded, delivered, unloaded, and placed the raised beds at Sharon School in February. Students, faculty, and staff at Sharon School have also been cleaning and preparing the area for spring planting.

Recognizing the pivotal role of school leadership, Samantha commended Sharon School’s Principal Michelle Clements, Assistant Principal Beth Davidson, and teachers Danielle Johnson and Lydia Hazlewood for their guidance and dedication to the project.

“Having strong leadership at the school level is crucial for the success of any school garden project. These individuals lead the charge each year by integrating outdoor learning experiences into the curriculum, ensuring that students are engaged and learning from the entire experience.  Weakley County Schools is the beacon that is leading the Farm to Schools movement in West Tennessee.”

The theme for this school year at Sharon School is #GrowSharon, according to Principal Michelle Clements, and this collaboration reflects the theme perfectly.

“We love providing our students with the chance to grow with hands-on learning experiences that they can use for the rest of their lives. We are thankful to have these partnerships that allow students to get their hands in the soil, learn about agriculture, and to get a better understanding of all that it encompasses to grow nutritious and sustainable foods.”

-Michelle Clements

The NWTN Local Food Network, founded as a grassroots organization in 2015 and later established as a nonprofit in 2018, has been instrumental in fostering partnerships between schools and communities to promote sustainable agriculture and nutrition education. With a focus on empowering students to make healthy choices and fostering community resilience, the NWTN Local Food Network is at the forefront of the Farm to School movement in West Tennessee.

For more, visit weakleycountyschools.com

Harvest of the Month Poster Winners Announced

The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network (LFN) hosted the Taste of Tennessee Harvest of the Month (HOTM) poster contest during Farm to School month in October 2023.  All K-12 students in the Northwest Tennessee Region were eligible to enter the contest. The Harvest of the Month program’s goal is to encourage healthy and local food choices by increasing Northwest Tennessee residents’ exposure to seasonally available foods. 

“This project provides awareness of the locally grown foods, artistic expression, and the important connection with our local food system,” commented Samantha Goyret, Executive Director of the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network. “The entries showed how students, when given a chance, have an incredible ability to showcase their creative skills and agricultural knowledge.”

The 12 student winners were chosen from 58 entries from South Carroll County Special School District and Weakley County School District. The winners are (drumroll please….):

January – Beef: Candice Bowlin, Grade 9, Clarksburg School

February – Pork, Jayden Garcia, Grade 8, Clarksburg School

March – Hydroponic Lettuce, Basil Parsaca, Grade 9, Dresden High School

April – Radish, Bayleigh Laws, Grade 4, Clarksburg School

May  – Strawberries, Vivian Flippin, Grade 3, Clarksburg School

June – Broccoli, Mattie Burnett, Grade 12, Dresden High School

July – Corn, Klover Santiago, Grade 5, Clarksburg School

August – Melons, Becky Melton, Grade 5, Clarksburg School

September – Apples, Lily Lucas, Kindergarten, Clarksburg School

October – Gourds, Tegan Stout, Grade 3, Dresden Elementary School

November – Sweet Potatoes, Annaka Townsend, Grade 6, Clarksburg School

December – Turnips, Alexa Vu, Grade 6, Martin Middle School

“We celebrate the Clarksburg Rockets Farm to School program in partnership with the NWTNLFN that is guiding us as we develop a robust Farm to School culture in all grade-levels in our school,” stated Dr. Lisa Norris, Director of Schools, South Carroll Special School District. “The Harvest of the Month program is a great example of how to tie in art, agriculture, nutrition and local food education all in one project. ”

The winning artwork will be featured in Harvest of the Month Promotional materials in the Northwest Tennessee region. The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to serve as a catalyst for a thriving and equitable local food system that is accessible to ALL in Northwest Tennessee.

Clarksburg School Taste of Tennessee Harvest of the Month Poster Winners 2024
(From left to right): Caroline Ideus – NWTNLFN, Annaka Townsend, Klover Santiago, Candice Bowlin, Bayleigh Laws, Vivian Flippin,  Lily Lucas, Clarksburg Art Teacher LeAnne Edwards, Samantha Goyret, NWTNLFN
(Winners not present: Becky Melton & Jayden Garcia)

Weakley County Schools Taste of Tennessee Harvest of the Month Poster Winners 2024  (From top to bottom): Tegan Stout – Grade 3, Dresden Elementary School, Alexa Vu – Grade 6, Martin Middle School, Mattie Burnett – Grade 12, Dresden High School
(Winner not present: Hydroponic Greens, Basil Parsaca – Grade 9, Dresden High School)

NWTN Farm to School Partnerships win $1 Million through Action for Healthy Kids & Local Foods in Schools Grants

As part of a cooperative agreement to develop and implement the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Healthy Meals Incentives Initiative, Action for Healthy Kids today announced that it is awarding nearly $30 million in subgrants to 264 school districts across 44 states and the District of Columbia, reaching students in some of our nation’s highest need schools. These funds are being provided by USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service.

Out of nine (9) grants awarded throughout the state of Tennessee, four (4) of these grants were awarded to the following Northwest Tennessee Schools: Bradford Special School District – $144,086; Milan Special School District – $144,086; Trenton Special School District – $144, 086; and Weakley County School District – $150,000 totaling $582,258 for Northwest Tennessee School Districts.

“We are so grateful to be a recipient of the Healthy Meals Incentive Grant.  This $150,000 grant will be a tremendous asset and will enable us to replace some antiquated equipment,” stated Trista Snider, Director of Weakley County Schools Nutrition Department.  “We will also consult with a chef that specializes in K-12 operations to assist us in learning how to prepare even more delicious, scratch meals, incorporate efficiency hacks, and assist in learning how to incorporate more locally grown produce and locally raised meat.”

The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network, a local nonprofit based out of Martin, TN, was a fundamental partner in helping facilitate the formation of the Healthy Meals Incentive projects. 

“Our mission is to catalyze actions that are increasing access to a thriving and equitable local food system for all in our region,” stated Caroline Ideus, Outreach Director and Farm to School Consultant of the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network (LFN). “Access to healthy food is vital for our growing children. Our school nutrition programs have proven to be a vital asset and the largest classroom in every school. Through our established Farm to School partnerships in Bradford, Milan, Trenton and Weakley School Districts, we are helping advance their farm to school initiatives through increased access to healthy and nutritious meals, nutrition education, and fortifying school nutrition programs across our region.”

Earlier this year, the LFN facilitated additional grant applications with four additional school districts (Crockett County Schools, Trenton Special Schools, Weakley County Schools and Cheatham County Schools) to receive a grant for TN school districts called “Local Foods for Schools” grant through the TN Department of Education. This grant aims to help offset costs for local food  purchasing, storing and distributing local foods from local farms.

Each small and/or rural school district will receive up to $150,000 to support them in improving the nutritional quality of their meals and modernizing their operations, through efforts which could include:

  • Innovative staff training programs;
  • Redesigning food preparation and service spaces;
  • Kitchen updates and renovations;
  • Other school-district led efforts to support school meals and school nutrition professionals.

“When we strengthen school meal quality, we strengthen child health,” said USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Stacy Dean. “These grants are the largest targeted investment USDA has ever made for school meal programs in small and rural communities. We want to ensure every child in America has the opportunity to attend a school with high quality, nutritious meals, and this support is a step in that direction.”

An online map features the selected school districts and their grant amounts. The map will be updated on a rolling basis as schools formalize their grant agreements.

“Offering healthier school meals is key to helping our nation’s kids get the nutrients they need today and for their long-term development,” said Action for Healthy Kids CEO Rob Bisceglie. “Through this historic investment in school nutrition, we will help school districts across the country overcome challenges and develop solutions to provide nutritious foods for the children they serve.”

USDA and Action for Healthy Kids also recently opened applications for the Healthy Meals Incentives Recognition Awards, which celebrate school districts that have made significant improvements to the nutritional quality of their school meals. All school districts in the United States are invited to apply. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis through June 30, 2025.

School districts that meet Recognition Award criteria will receive benefits such as national and local recognition; travel stipends to attend a national Healthy Meals Summit; access to diverse best practices, training activities; and more.

Action for Healthy Kids will manage the grants to school districts, Recognition Awards, and Healthy Meals Summits with the support of The Chef Ann Foundation and Rocky Mountain Center for Health Promotion and Education.

FNS works to end hunger and improve food and nutrition security through a suite of 16 nutrition assistance programs, such as the National School Breakfast and National School Lunch Programs, the Special Supplemental Program for Women, Infants, and Children and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Together, these programs serve 1 in 4 Americans over the course of a year, promoting consistent and equitable access to healthy, safe, and affordable food essential to optimal health and well-being. FNS also provides science-based nutrition recommendations through the co-development of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. FNS’s report, “Leveraging the White House Conference to Promote and Elevate Nutrition Security: The Role of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service,” released in conjunction with the historic White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health in September 2022, highlights ways the agency will support the Biden-Harris Administration’s National Strategy. To learn more about FNS, visit www.fns.usda.gov and follow @USDANutrition.

Action for Healthy Kids is dedicated to improving children’s health and well-being by bringing together and mobilizing educators, families, and other key stakeholders to help children lead healthy lives. Through its core programming and family-school partnerships, AFHK has impacted more than 20 million children in 55,000 schools nationwide to address systemic challenges in underserved communities. To learn more about its growing network of volunteers and champions, visit www.actionforhealthykids.org.

The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network envisions a sustainable regional food system that utilizes locally grown and produced foods to promote healthy individuals, equitable communities and thriving local economies. The LFN serves as a consulting partner to growing Farm to School initiatives throughout Northwest Tennessee. Learn more at nwtnlfn.org/programs/farm-to-school.

The Tennessee Department of Education’s School Nutrition program is responsible for providing nutritious meals and snacks for students in public and private schools, as well as residential and child care institutions. TN School Nutrition administers the USDA’s National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program and Afterschool Snack Program across the state. All public schools in Tennessee are on the National School Lunch Program, which provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children each school day. Learn more at www.tn.gov/education/health-and-safety/school-nutrition.html

Source: Weakley County School Nutrition Department
This is a snapshot of a school meal provided by Weakley County School District in March 2023, sourcing strawberries from Bell Family Farms out of Gleason, TN, local milk from Prairie Farms, and FFA school grown hydroponic lettuce. The Weakley County Farm to School Initiative plants the seeds for students to learn where their food comes from by growing, observing, and experiencing hands-on opportunities. The growth of the initiative occurs as educators, farmers, and local ag-based entities work together to create a nationally recognized sustainable model. Learn more about NWTN Farm to School Action Plan visions and goals at nwtnlfn.org/programs/farm-to-school

GroMoreGood Grant to Cultivate Sharon School Garden

Recently, the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network received a $500 Gro More Good Grassroots grant to support the renovation and rejuvenation of the Sharon School Grant. This was a competitive national grant from the Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation and KidsGardening.

In 2023, 160 programs received funding to start or expand their youth garden or greenspace. A total of $95,000 was awarded.

“Congratulations to the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network for receiving a 2023 GroMoreGood Grassroots Grant,” said KidsGardening’s Program Director, Sarah Lane. “We love when kids can play, learn, and grow in the garden, and the new student-designed garden at Sharon School will be the perfect place for that.”

The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network facilitated the Weakley County Farm to School Action Planning process which produced a Farm to School Action Plan in 2021. “The organization’s mission is to serve as a catalyst for a thriving and equitable local food system that is accessible to ALL,” stated Samantha Goyret, Executive Director, NWTNLFN, “which is exactly how we plan to utilize the Sharon School Garden as a way to empower both teachers, students, and the community.”

The Weakley County Farm to School vision statement, “Plants the seeds for students to learn where their food comes from by growing, observing, and experiencing hands-on opportunities. The growth of the initiative occurs as educators, farmers, and local ag-based entities work together to create a nationally recognized sustainable model.

The #GrowSharon School Garden Committee will coordinate the maintenance of the garden through a strategic plan that is being worked on with the STEM Garden design project to involve ALL grade levels at Sharon School in order to take part in maintaining, engaging and enjoying the garden space. 

Part of the plan is to add playground borders around the garden, lay down a thick layer of mulch and create new raised beds for kids 3 years old to 14, Pre-K – 8th grade to utilize throughout the school year.

#GrowSharon Committee members include Linda Biggers, Interventionist Specialist at Sharon School who is working with students to design the school garden using STEM concepts; McKenna Cady, Middle School teacher who incorporates STEM concepts into daily student activities and has a passion to work with children with disabilities; Michelle Clements, Principal, Sharon School who has been serving Weakley County Schools for over 15 years; Beth Davidson, Assistant Principal who wears many hats, Ms. Beth is a Literacy Leader, RTBR Coach, and co-leader of the Sharon School; Samantha Goyret, Parent/LFN Staff, who has been volunteering at Sharon School for 5 years and loves to teach children about gardening, eating well and having fun in the soil; and Danielle Scott Johnson, 2nd grade Teacher who in 2020, was a Teacher of the Year State Finalist, and the lead teacher who implemented the Sharon School garden in 2014. Ms. Danielle’s passion and dedication to keep growing has inspired the rest of the school to take action to expand the garden location.

The GroMoreGood Grassroots Grant, brought to you by The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation and KidsGardening, is designed to bring the life-enhancing benefits of gardens to communities across the United States. The Grassroots Grants are part of Scotts Miracle-Gro’s larger GroMoreGood initiative, which aims to bring the life-enhancing benefits of gardens and greenspaces to 10 million children by 2023.

There are several volunteer opportunities through the NWTN Local Food Network visit: nwtnlfn.org/volunteer.

More about grantees: https://kidsgardening.org/grant_winners/2023-gromoregood-grassroots-grant-winners/

~ Written by Samantha Goyret
Local Food Network Team Member

Farmers Input Needed: Act NOW!

TN Farmers Act Now. The LFN is seeking Tennessee farmers to take this very important survey by April 15, 2023! This voluntary survey will take about 10 minutes to complete and asks about your general views and input to help develop more Farm to School connections across the State of Tennessee. Those who complete the survey will be entered to win a free Local Food Network t-shirt and a variety of seeds.

The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network (LFN) is a nonprofit organization based out of Martin, TN with a mission to serve as a catalyst for a thriving and equitable local food system that is accessible to all in Tennessee. The LFN has been partnering with school districts to develop thriving and equitable Farm to School initiatives in Tennessee Schools.

The LFN researches & develops tailored, economically sustainable solutions for schools, farmers & ranchers to avoid duplication & drive meaningful change. We do this through collaboration, coordination, and increased connections between local food sources and consumers.

Some programs the Local Food Network offers regionally is the creation of the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Guide Magazine, Farm to School programming development and support, Local Food Procurement resources, and marketing of Northwest Tennessee Farmers Markets and their vendors products. Although we are regionally based, our network aims to connect farmers listed on the Pick TN Product website and NWTN Local Food Guide in-print magazine with schools across the state of Tennessee.

Through shared knowledge and collaboration, the LFN will mobilize data and research to increase access to information in ways never before possible in Tennessee agriculture. Findings will be incorporated into the new Tennessee Local Food Procurement Manual and apply for grants to support farmers collaborating with the LFN Farm to School programming in Tennessee.

Take the survey here: www.surveymonkey.com/r/tnf2sfarmers2023

Take the Farm to School Farmers Survey HERE.

Taste of Tennessee Harvest of the Month Poster Winners Announced

The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network (LFN) has been developing the Taste of Tennessee Harvest of the Month (HOTM) poster contest since 2019. In 2022, during National Farm to School Month in October, the LFN partnered with Weakley County Schools and Trenton Special School District to conduct this annual poster contest. The Harvest of the Month program’s goal is to encourage healthy food choices by increasing Northwest Tennessee residents’ exposure to seasonal foods, agriculture and nutrition education, while supporting local farmers and building excitement about locally made meals.

nwtnlfn.org/taste-of-tennessee

This project provides awareness of the locally grown foods, artistic expression, and the important connection with our local food system,” commented Samantha Goyret, Executive Director of the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network. “The entries showed how students, when given a chance, have an incredible ability to showcase their creative skills and agricultural knowledge.

9 student winners and 9 honorable mentions were selected from a total of 57 entries from Weakley County School & Trenton Special School Districts. The winning student artwork will be pooled with all Harvest of the Month winners since 2019 to then be featured in a 12-month poster series that will be offered to all school cafeteria programs across the State of Tennessee through generous support from the Tennessee Department of Education. The finalists will be announced at a later date.

Each contestant had to write one to two sentences about their featured local product. “I picked watermelon because it’s my favorite fruit!,” wrote Scarlett Lovell, Greenfield School. “It’s juicy & sweet. I like to eat watermelon in the summer with my dad!

I love apples,” wrote Helena Bennett, Kindergartener at Sharon School. “My apple is in a fruit basket, and I love polka-dots. It’s in my imagination.”

“I love honey,” wrote Haven Love, 5th grade, Trenton Rosenwald Middle School. “It is a healthy food, and I like to cook with it. I think it is neat how bees make it.”

Weakley County Schools is very fortunate to have such great supporters of both Agriculture and the arts in our area,” said Randy Frazier, Director of Weakley County Schools. “Our rich farming heritage deserves to be celebrated and we are grateful to the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network for highlighting our students’ talent and producing such a practical tool for us.”  

Students received local food and produce prizes from the following farms: Blackberry Pond Farm out of Martin, TN, Dixie Chile Ranch out of Kenton, TN, Purrrfectly Homemade out of Troy, TN and Barefoot Gardens out of Martin, TN.

Image Above: Weakley County School Students, (top left to right): Helena Bennett – Sharon School, Annabelle Lovell – Greenfield School, Paola Rodrigues – Dresden Elementary School,

(bottom left to right): Maria Ivansic – Martin Elementary School, Elissa Puckett – Dresden Elementary School, Wyatt Craig – Dresden Middle School, Avery Riley – Sharon School

Image Above : Trenton Special School District Students from Trenton Rosenwald Middle School (left to right): Catelyn Ambrose – Watercolor Asparagus and Black/Blueberries, Colored Pencil Choloe Francis – Black/Blueberries, Nickolaus Cliff – Colored pencil Strawberries, Haven Love – Pencil and Marker Honey

The following student artists won the Harvest of the Month poster contest:

~ Honey – Haven Love – 5th grade, Trenton Rosenwald Middle School
~Asparagus – Wyatt Craig – 6th grade, Dresden Middle School
~Strawberries – Avery Riley – 3rd, Sharon Elementary 
~Strawberries – Nickolaus Cliff, 5th grade, Trenton Rosenwald Middle School
~Blue/Blackberries – Chloe Francis – 8th grade, Trenton Rosenwald Middle School
~Asparagus, Blue/Black Berries – Catelyn Ambrose – 8th grade, Trenton Rosenwald Middle School
~Tomatoes – Paola Rodriguez – K, Dresden Elementary School
~Apples – Helena Bennett – K, Sharon School
~Pumpkins – Elissa Puckett – 1st grade grade, Dresden Elementary School 
~Leafy Greens – Annabelle Lovell – 8th grade, Greenfield Elementary School
~Watermelon – Maria Ivansic – 5th grade, Martin Elementary School

The following students received Harvest of the Month honorable mentions:

~Honey – Sofia Goyret – 3rd grade, Sharon School
~Blue and Blackberries – Jo Winstead, 7th grade, Dresden Middle School
~Blue and Blackberries – Emma Munoz, 7th grade, Martin Middle School
~Watermelon – Scarlot Lovell – 3rd grade, Greenfield Elementary School
~Watermelon – Blaze Bennett – 5th grade, Sharon School
~Apples: Persi Foster – 2nd grade, Gleason Elementary
~Pumpkins: Helena Bennett – K, Sharon School

The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network’s mission is to catalyze actions that are increasing access to locally grown and produced foods.  

This program’s material is based upon work that is supported by the Food and Nutrition Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Tennessee Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Grant in collaboration with the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network and Farm to School program partners.

For more information about the Harvest of the Month program, local food recipes, and how to download current Harvest of the Month posters, visit the Local Food Network’s website at: nwtnlfn.org/taste-of-tennessee.

Obion County Farm Day Paves the Way Towards the Future of Farming

On Friday, October 21, 2022, the Obion County School District celebrated FARM DAY at Obion County Central High School. The High School’s Future Farmers of America student group hosted close to 200 fourth graders who rotated through agricultural learning stations including chicks from Tyson Foods out of Union City, TN Corn, TN Soybean Council, NWTN Beekeepers Association, Nutrien Ag Solutions, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Beef Cattle and OCCHS FFA raised lambs.

All Obion County School District Elementary School fourth graders participated including students from Lakeview, South Fulton, Black Oak, Hillcrest, and Ridgemont Elementary Schools.

Activities like Farm Day, celebrated during #National Farm to School Month, bring awareness about the benefits of agriculture and nutrition in our daily lives. “Farm Day is a great way to educate children about agriculture because many fourth graders do not know where their food comes from,” stated Sara Frazier, Agriculture Teacher at Obion County Central High School. “The FFA program utilizes peer-to-peer learning which is a great way to empower high school students by teaching younger students about agricultural concepts.”

During the 2021-2022 school year, the Obion County School District, in partnership with the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network, participated in a year-long Farm to School Planning project resulting in the publication of the Obion County Farm to School Action Plan.

Stuart Watson (middle), Agriculture Teacher & FFA Adviser at Obion County Central High School, has a passion to teach youth about sustainable agriculture which shows in the hydroponic & greenhouse plant program he manages at Obion County Central High School. Also in the picture are NWTN Local Food Network Farm to School Coordinators (left) Samantha Goyret and (right) Caroline Ideus.
Obion County Central High School FFA students are ready to take action!
(left to right: front) Norah Kendall, Katelyn Ramsey, Aiden Cochran, Tony Blue, Genesis Wilson, (back) Stuart Watson, Daniel Northern, Jaxon Willcutt, Titan Talbot.

Will you help Obion County Central High School build a NEW greenhouse? These dedicated students want to be able to expand hydroponic growing operations in order to feed a consistent supply of Rebel Grown greens to all of the schools in the school district. Obion County is seeking matching funds to support this project – can you help? Contact Stuart Watson at swatson@ocboe.com.

Be a Part of the ACTION: Obion County Farm to School Action Plan

We envision an Obion County School District Farm to School Initiative that connects the farm to the classroom to the cafeteria to increase healthy food options and foster a deeper understanding of our food sources and their nutritional benefits to support the welfare of students, parents, and community members in Obion County, TN.”

The Obion County Farm to School team seeks schools and their communities to take action by encouraging working on collective Farm to School goals over the next 3 years. The goals are developed around supporting initiatives in the Cafeteria, Classroom, Community, and coordinating an integrated approach for Staying Power.

The following is a brief summary of the Farm to School initiative goals over the next three years: 

Education Goal: By 2023, Obion County Schools will connect students to agriculture experiences through experiential learning opportunities.

Growing Food Goal 1: Starting in 2023, school based growing food operations will improve by increasing access to agriculture education, elementary school-based growing programs, and the support and expansion of high school greenhouse growing operations.

Growing Food Goal 2: By 2024, the processing of school grown foods will be determined to increase the amount of school grown food within Obion County schools.

Local Food Procurement/Cafeteria Goal 1: By 2023, Obion County Schools will begin to incorporate school garden produce and school farm products into the cafeteria and afterschool snacks through taste tests to increase access to fresher, healthier foods for all students.

Local Food Procurement/ Cafeteria Goal 2: Starting in 2023, food service staff will have access to in-service training to incorporate local agriculture products and increase awareness of nutritional education opportunities through the school food service program.

Coordination, Integration And Staying Power Goal 1: Starting the school year 2022-2023, the Obion County Farm to School Team will seek financial stability for Farm to School Programming.

Coordination, Integration And Staying Power Goal 2: Starting in 2023, schools will increase communication by including a featured farm to school activity or resource in quarterly newsletters and a monthly social media post of school based farm to school activities from within the Obion School District. #FarmtoSchool

Coordination, Integration And Staying Power Goal 3: Starting the school year 2022-2023, a network of community stakeholders will be informed of the Obion County Action Plan to aid in increasing advocacy efforts and gain broader support from parents, community organizations, local businesses, institutions, and farmers.

Education Long-Term Goal: Within 5 years the Obion County School District will increase the number of nutrition and agriculture curriculum resources and Farm to School training opportunities for teachers.

Growing Food Long-Term Goal: By 2025, the amount of school grown produce and products procured into Obion County school cafeterias will have increased by 5%.

The Obion County Farm to School Action Plan was written in collaboration with the Obion County School District and the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network. The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that serves as a catalyst for a thriving and equitable local food system that is accessible to ALL.

Download the full Obion County Farm to School Action Plan at nwtnlfn.org/farm-to-school

~Samantha Goyret
NWTN Local Food Network Team
Farm to School Coordinator

Celebrate Applesauce Day!!

The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network (LFN) is celebrating the changing of the seasons on Sunday, September 19, 2021, by encouraging individuals, families, students, and seniors to make applesauce.

Join us for a Facebook LIVE cooking class at 2pm on Sunday, September 19th.

Apples are the featured Taste of Tennessee Harvest of the Month product during the month of September. Source your local apples locally from:

~ Northwest Tennessee Local Food Guide 2021 Magazine

~Pick TN Website: www.picktnproducts.org/listview/apples

“We wanted to create a Tennessee tradition to celebrate the beginning of fall, broaden people’s knowledge about local apple varieties, encourage families to cook together, and to embolden culinary skills,” stated Samantha Goyret, Executive Director of the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network.

Applesauce Recipe

Ingredients

4 medium local apples (2-3/4″ diameter) – peeled, cored and chopped (Visit Pick TN Website)

¾ cup water

¼ cup sugar 

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

Peel and core the apples. Slice apples in quarters or sixths. In a saucepan, combine apples, water, and cinnamon (You can add other spices like ginger or cardamom if you like). Cover the pan and simmer over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes until the apples soften fully. Allow to cool, then mash with a fork or potato masher. Add sugar to taste, but often none is needed.  

Click on image to print recipe.

Share your applesauce stories with us on facebook by tagging @NWTNLFN #APPLESAUCEDAY or share this blog post!

The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization serving as a catalyst for a thriving and equitable local food system that is accessible to ALL.

Happy applesauce cooking!

Weakley County Among Recipients of Record-Breaking Farm to School Grants

More than $9 million in USDA Farm to School Program grants were recently awarded to increase the amount of healthy, local foods served in schools and create economic opportunities for nearby farmers. Among the awards was a nearly $49,000 grant to Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network (LFN) for a collaboration with Weakley County Schools.

Though this year marks an all-time high of funding for the program with grants supporting 126 projects in 42 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, the Weakley County project is the only one in West Tennessee, and one of only three in the state, to receive a Farm to School grant.

The goal of the planning project is to create a Weakley County Farm to School Action Plan focused on Farm to School activities throughout the school district, which serves more than 4,000 students in 10 schools. The LFN will coordinate activities in collaboration with the Weakley County School System and stakeholders. The plan is scheduled to be completed by April 2021.

“The planning team will determine the tools, training, and technical assistance needed to create an integrated farm to school program that will not only educate and benefit our students, but positively impact the community by increasing access to healthy, local food in the schools,” explained Samantha Goyret, Executive Director, NWTN Local Food Network.

The plan will note identified needs, gaps, resources and funding sources for projects and is envisioned as a potential model that can then be replicated with other school districts.

“The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network is very excited to work with Weakley County Schools, teachers, students, administration, parents and farmers to plan for future Farm to School projects and programming that will benefit the health and welfare of our students and community at large,” Goyret added.

In response to the announcement of the grant monies, Weakley County School Director Randy Frazier observed, “The Local Food Network has become a fundamental partner in networking within the community to connect farmers and resources to Weakley County Schools. We are looking forward to discovering the best practices to improve access to local foods in schools and ways to enhance our students’ understanding of the impact of local farming.”

Several Farm to School activities are already underway in the district:

Second graders at Sharon School were introduced to growing their own food when they planted and reaped the bounty of a garden last year. The harvested sweet potatoes were then prepared by the school cafeteria to be shared with fellow students.

· All K-3 students participate in a curriculum geared toward farming, sustainability, and local communities.

· All 4th graders participate in Farm Day and visit a local farm.

· At Sharon School, 2nd graders have planted a small garden and maintain a hanging garden installed by Women’s Farm Bureau, funding from Farm Bureau Ag in the Classroom, and technical assistance from the LFN.

· The school system gives an Interest Inventory to 8th, 10th, and 11th graders. Each year, the category of “Agriculture & Natural Resources Conservation” is one of the top three areas of career interest for each of those grades.

· Dresden and Westview high schools have greenhouses onsite.

· Dresden High School has a livestock production program raising beef and swine. As soon as a USDA-approved processor is available, plans are to produce sausage for the school’s cafeteria.

· Each school within the district has a Healthy School Team to address the health needs for the particular school.

In addition to the contributions farm to school activities bring to local schools, the USDA notes that the activities also strengthen local economies. USDA’s 2015 Farm to School Census found that in the 2013-2014 school year alone, schools purchased more than $789 million in local food from farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and food processors and manufacturers. Schools provide producers stable markets and long-term revenues, and the program introduces students to agricultural career paths.

“We currently use a limited amount of locally grown produce in our school kitchens,” said Trista Snider, Weakley County Schools Nutrition Director. “However, we anticipate that as a result of this year of planning and working with the Local Food Network and area farmers, we will be able to expand our sources and substantially increase the quantity and – since it will be local – the quality of our offerings.”

The NWTN Local Food Network (LFN) founders Goyret and Ashley Kite-Rowland will serve as project coordinators and oversee the implementation of forums, surveys and assessments that will lead to the final action plan. Snider will be part of the planning team as will Bethany Allen, Weakley County Coordinated School Health Director. Allen’s work will center on students and the Healthy School Teams.

Healthy School Teams are led by the school nurse and include an administrator, the school counselor, school cafeteria manager and other interested persons. They promote healthy eating throughout the school day.

“I envision this planning grant bringing awareness to locally grown food and the importance of healthy eating for all of our students,” said Allen. “Coordinated School Health will work with LFN to encourage school gardens throughout the district and ways to incorporate agriculture into academic lessons.”

The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network (LFN) was formed in 2015 and envisions an equitable food system in the 9-county region of Northwest Tennessee that uses locally grown and produced food to sustain healthy communities and local economies.

~ Karen Campbell
Communications Director
Weakley County School District