Fewer and fewer children are connected to farming these days. In an effort to educate those young people about where their food comes from, the Oregon Department of Agriculture has their Farm to School Program. This grant process encourages farmers from across the state to provide their commodities for students statewide, allowing the kids to enjoy fresh food, while the farmer gets to educate the next generation of consumers.
Jeff Aichele, a berry grower from Stanfield was one of the six producers awarded Farm to School Producer Grants for the current school year. He noted by participating, the ODA provides him a good price for his produce, as well as additional market opportunities, but the benefits don’t end there.
“Supplying kids with fresh produce is actually very rewarding. A lot of times I’ll go in and make a delivery and the kids will catch me and they’ll run and say ‘oh, the strawberry guy is here, strawberry guy is here,’ and they’re all excited for the fresh produce.”
Aichele added the program is a great benefit for kids who come from low income neighborhoods.
“These kids are getting fresh fruits and vegetables that they quite frankly can’t afford at home. And so they’re getting to try a lot of new, different things. And I’ve had kids write me e-mails call me up, asking ‘how do you grow this? how do you become a farmer?’ that sort of thing. It’s happend a couple of times.”
Aichele added there’s room for the Farm to School Program to grow and expand, and he encourages producers across Oregon, regardless of commodity, to participate.
Click Here to learn more about the Farm to School Program.
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