VINES Farm Share in Whitney Point

VINES Farm Share, a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program based in Binghamton, NY, initially began as the result of a 2012 study performed by the Center for Agricultural Development and Entrepreneurship (CADE) in Oneonta, NY. The study focused on increasing access to good food in local food deserts and found that convenience and price were the top priorities for residents when it came to buying food. VINES Farm Share emerged as a way to go directly into neighborhoods that lack fresh, healthy produce to distribute CSA shares from local farms. By accepting SNAP benefits and providing up to a 50% discount to income eligible members the residents were better able to afford the local food. VINES has worked with a number of different farms and during the 2018 season members have the option to buy a share from the Binghamton Urban Farm, Main Street Farms, North Windsor Berries, and Shared Roots Farm. Continue reading

April Spotlight: Sidney Central School District Gardens

In honor of National Garden Month, our April Spotlight are the Sidney Central School District’s Elementary School Gardens. Tom Lewis, our Food Access and Development Coordinator spoke with Josh Gray, a teacher at Sidney CSD, Co-Chair of the Sidney Wellness Committee, and School Coordinator of the Creating Healthy Schools and Communities grant. Mr. Gray spoke about the gardens’ history, its impact on the students, and goals for the future of the gardens.

What is the history of the gardens and how did they get started?

Mr. Gray: Sidney CSD has what I would call a garden system, consisting of a number of areas where gardening can happen.  We have two outdoor garden areas, one at the elementary, which is a more experiential garden, and the other a larger garden intended to produce veggies for the cafeterias.  We have a hoop-house under construction, and an aquaponics system located inside our elementary cafeteria.  Our gardening program began in its current form at the elementary school about 6 years ago, reclaiming an unused garden space that was installed with funding from Cornell Cooperative Extension. I asked the teacher who had last used the garden if I could do some work on it, and started involving some third and fourth graders during the last period of the day to clean it up and get things planted. Continue reading

National School Breakfast Week Story

School breakfast fights hunger, improves nutrition, and empowers children to learn. In New York, 747,881 children participate daily in the school breakfast program. Learn more about school breakfast by visiting the Food Research and Action Center, School Nutrition Association and reading Jacqueline’s story below about why breakfast in the classroom is important to her family!  Continue reading

Spotlight: DCMO BOCES

In January we announced that FaHN would be expanding our farm to school efforts into Chenango, Delaware, and Otsego Counties. Sidney Central School District was awarded a round three New York State Farm to School grant, and we’ll be working with Sidney CSD and Delaware-Chenango-Madison-Otsego BOCES to expand their successful programming and connect farmers and fresh local produce to Afton, Bainbridge, Walton, Downsville, Unatego, Unadilla Valley, Sherburne-Earlville, Greene, and Oneonta City school districts. FaHN will assist with building the regional farm to school supply chain, conducting farmer outreach, coordinating local procurement efforts, and collaborating on farm to school programs and processes.

Tom Lewis, FaHN VISTA, recently spoke with Kim Corcoran, DCMO BOCES Food Service Director who has been with BOCES for 28 years and is currently working on farm to school initiatives, and Christian DiRado-Owens, FaHN Program Coordinator who will be assisting Sidney and BOCES to discuss our new partnership and supporting farm to school in the region.

Why do you believe is it important for children in schools to have access to healthy meal options?

Kim: Children need to be exposed to and fed fresh, healthy food options for lifelong good health and weight management. They need to have access to fresh local food at all ages. Continue reading

January Spotlight: Reflections on the 2017 Community Food Systems Conference

Written by: Tom Lewis

UC Davis’ Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program defines a sustainable community food system as “a collaborative network that integrates sustainable food production, processing, distribution, consumption and waste management in order to enhance the environmental, economic and social health of a particular place.” During my time as an AmeriCorps VISTA with the Food & Health Network, I’ve had the chance to learn about and also see first-hand how valuable community food systems are to creating equitable community development. So, when I was given the opportunity to travel to Boston for the 2017 Community Food Systems Conference, I was understandably excited. The conference, hosted by the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, took place in the historic Boston Park Plaza Hotel. The conference was three days long and filled with workshops, a panel moderated by Big Hunger author and former director of the Community food Security Coalition Andy Fisher, many beneficial networking opportunities, and a keynote address by the highly influential First Nations environmentalist, economist, activist, and writer Winona LaDuke. Continue reading