On June 10, 2021 Food and Health Network had the pleasure of attending the Planting Festival, hosted by Tioga Central School District. Tioga school is unique in that it has a farm on site, known as Tiger Farm, that features raised beds, a small orchard, and hoop house. In the past, Tiger Farm ran an event in the fall known as “Harvest Festival”. Due to Covid-19 restrictions in place this past fall, the school was forced to postpone the event until the spring. FaHN has attended Harvest Festivals in the past and was invited back to attend the Festival this spring.

FaHN members conducted an array of engaging activities for students, ranging in grades from Pre-K to sixth grade. These activities included a corn relay race, nature bracelet making craft, as well as an interactive photo frame with fruit and vegetable props. The students also received stickers that had various fruits and vegetables on them which highlighted their’ curiosity, causing them to ask many questions on the types of produce pictured and how each tasted. Each child left the FaHN table with a seed packet of their choice to plant at home. The seeds included bush beans, peas, carrots, various lettuces, and even microgreens. The bush beans, peas, and microgreen seeds were graciously donated by Stamford Farmers’ Cooperative as soon as they were told the seeds would be given to students.

The festival featured a variety of vendors and activities for students to participate in. There were several different farm animals in attendance including goats, miniature ponies, and a Brown Swiss cow to name a few. Students had the opportunity to learn about apple production from Mike Russell of Russell Farms, an integral partner in our farm to school work. Additionally, students planted pumpkins and various other seeds in their raised beds at the farm. The attendees were all-encompassing in the topics they addressed; showcasing lessons such as the importance of soil health, maple syrup production, and even how to milk a cow.

This event was a product of hard work and dedication on behalf of students, school faculty and staff, many community partners, and the Tiger Farm planning committee. After such a trying year for everyone, especially schools, this event was the perfect celebration of the school year coming to a close, the planting season, and farm to school practices at Tioga CSD. FaHN is extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to attend this event and to Tioga CSD’s dedication to the farm to school program.