Arkansas hosts its first Farm to School conference November 12 at Heifer International headquarters in Little Rock. While full (new applications are being wait listed), the conference promises to be an excellent opportunity to learn from Farm-to-School national experts, and hear everyday voices from the nation's classrooms, kitchens, farms, food services workers, and the nonprofits that support them.
The program will feature some of the most prominent national leaders of the farm-to-school movement, including Anupama Joshi and Marion Kalb, co-directors of the National Farm to School Network. The movement, which seeks to connect schools with local farms with the objectives of serving healthy meals in school cafeterias, improving student nutrition, providing health and nutrition education and supporting small farmers, is gaining momentum due to national concerns about children's health, the farm economy and the environmental impact of transporting food over long distances.
Keynote speaker will be Ann Cooper, "the Renegade Lunch Lady" and author of "Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children". In addition, Joe Salatin, a farmer featured in Michael Pollan's bestselling book, "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and in the recent documentary "Food, Inc." will speak at a public lecture and book signing. Marion Nestle, author of "What to Eat" and "Food Politics," will also participate.
Sessions include discussions of "Farm to School Processing and Distribution Models," "Local in the Lunchroom," "School Gardens" and "Farm to School: A National Movement." The event concludes with a session to share insights gained during the conference and on how best to move forward with Farm to School concepts.
Heifer's headquarters in Little Rock is a destination in itself, a Platinum-rated LEEDS green building. Additional attendee activities include visits to local urban gardens and Heifer Ranch, a learning center about Heifer's work in developing countries in Perryville, Arkansas.website