Louisiana Farm To School Conference Set for October 24 in Baton Rouge

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Registration is now open for the Louisiana Farm to School Conference taking place Oct. 24, 2017 at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center (PBRC) in Baton Rouge. The LSU AgCenter in partnership with the State Department of Education, PBRC, and the LA Farm to School Network will be orchestrating this exciting event designed to promote farm to school activities to share knowledge, ideas, and inspiration. For more information and to register, visit: https://store.lsuagcenter.com/p-266-louisiana-farm-to-school-institution-conference.aspx.  

“The statewide conference is a forum for attendees to be more familiar with the three aspects of farm to school activities — school gardening, education and local food procurement — as well as have an opportunity to learn from successful programs in the state and provide a forum to network,” said LSU AgCenter professor Carl Motsenbocker.

The October conference will bring together Louisiana’s key stakeholders in the Farm to School initiative – school administrators, teachers, farmers, food service distributors, government officials, policy makers, non-profit partners, and students. Anyone interested in growing the Louisiana Farm to School movement is encouraged to attend. The conference agenda will include two parallel tracks: one for “Connecting School Gardens with the Curriculum,” with sessions on best practices for school gardens, connecting menus with the seasons and agriculture education, and success stories from Lafayette parish school teachers and high school agriculture operations. The second track, “Producer and Child Nutrition Procurement,” will feature local purchasing experiences and methods, food safety, local sourcing and will host a buyers’ panel.  Panelists include representatives from Capitol City Produce, Liberty’s Kitchen, Top Box Food and Kevin Guidry Fresh Cuts. Gracie Hosea and Rory Gresham will serve as the opening speakers to share Rayville High School and Richland Parish’s journey to growing cafeteria items on campus – and making a profit!

The 2014 national James Beard Leadership Award recipient, Ben Burkett, will address the conference as keynote speaker. Burkett’s 40+ years of farming vision and talent led him to the leadership role of the Mississippi Association of Cooperatives within The Federation of Southern Cooperatives and as the President of the National Family Farm Coalition. Burkett has also travelled around the world teaching and talking to other co-ops. He is a member of the La Via Campesina Food Sovereignty Commission and a board member of the Community Food Security Coalition (CFSC).

“Connecting students to agriculture and an understanding of their food creates knowledge and awareness about gardening, healthy eating, local produce, and seasonality. Farm to school efforts result in greater academic achievements for students as well, including higher test scores,” said Crystal Robertson, Farm to School Specialist of LSU AgCenter.

“The farm to school effort is expanding and is a benefit to children, our farmers and our local communities,” said Angelina Harrison, National Farm to School Network Louisiana lead. “This conference comes at an opportune time for Louisiana as we continue our efforts statewide in connecting schools with Louisiana agriculture and raising awareness about farm to school.”

Carl Motsenbocker can be reached at (225) 578-1036 or cmotsenbocker@agcenter.lsu.edu