Smart Growth in Action: Agriculture in the Classroom
Strengthening policies that protect agricultural and forestry lands is an important component of smart growth. Vermont’s historic economy, culture and the health of its citizens, rely on diverse and stable farms.
Vermont Agriculture in the Classroom, established by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, assists in building networks between schools and farms. Their goals are to strengthen farms and food production while educating young Vermonters on the value of agriculture, food systems, natural resource management, and nutrition. Understanding and experiencing Vermont’s unique character strengthens children’s connection with their community.
The 2007 Act 91 (Rozo McLaughlin Farm to School Bill) offers $85,000 to assist Vermont schools in creating connections with local farms. The purpose of the grant money is to expand the market for Vermont farms and to provide fresh and nutritious food for students. Schools can apply for grants to either plan or implement a curriculum. They can qualify for an implementation grant once they have established a committee composed of individuals experienced in community development.
Hartland Elementary School has been successful at exercising an agricultural curriculum. They emphasize the significance of dairy farming and other historical trades in Vermont.
The Development Specialist for the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Koi Boynton, would also like to establish programs and assistance for secondary schools. She envisions these programs to be centered around agricultural careers and technical education to inspire students to be a part of Vermont’s historic economy. “Once you experiment with local food systems, you find that the quality is better. Food systems education establishes community ties and connects people with their place.”
To learn more about Vermont Agriculture in the Classroom and to find out how your school can be a part of this initiative, visit http://www.vt-aitc.org/.