Agriburbia Model for School Food

An exciting example from Denver was described at the Pikes Peak Environmental Forum on February 24th by Quint Redmond from Agriburbia.  They have recently signed a contract with Denver Public Schools to develop currently unused school grounds (about 2,000 acres) into productive farm land with a goal of eventually making DPS its own provider of fresh, local produce.

These gardens, under contract to Agriburbia, are fenced and will hire DPS students who have learned  about gardening in ‘training’ gardens at local schools.  These training gardens are those in which students plan, plant, care for and harvest the produce.  Plans are underway in one of Denver’s poorest schools to hire fourth and fifth graders who’ve learned about gardening in their school garden to earn funds in one of the ‘production’ gardens.  Plan is to offer alternative career paths to these students who might become future urban farmers.  Read more about some of these exciting programs at agriburbia.com.

Following his presentation, Mr. Redmond met with officials at Fountain Valley School which is considering emulating the DPS model here in our area.

A common denominator in these examples is one passionate person who persevered to insure the project came to fruition.  Research shows that those gardens are most apt to succeed when local school community members and neighborhood residents are involved and create a sense of community around the garden.

2nd Annual Connecting Local Farms and Schools Conference – Summary

On Friday, January 27th, Real Food Colorado and a number of co-sponsors held the 2nd Annual Connecting Farms and Schools Conference in Brighton. Local members Judith Rice-Jones, Gail Johnson, and Craig Johnson attended. In addition, there was a significant presence from local school districts (D11 and D49). It is expected that more detailed info, including videos of the sessions should be posted in about a month. D11 has a page dedicated to resources for Farm to School.

Key takeaways:

Regional Hubs in Greeley and Colorado Springs continue to make progress.

School gardens and local purchasing continue to progress. Denver Public Schools (DPS) purchased ~1.8M of local food last year. Denver now has 42 school gardens up and running. A great resource is their School Garden to Cafeteria Protocol put together with Slow Food Denver. They are also in the early stages of planning for more extensive food production on the ~50 acres of land that DPS controls that appear to be suited for ag production.

A couple of really great stories. First, the Denver Zoo is using locally sourced food to feed animals. Second, the Montrose Memorial Hospital is using locally sourced food in a big way, as evidenced by the Lobby Grill section of the 2011 annual report.

Lots of good resources for all: Colorado Market Maker, Colorado Farm to School, Colorado Farm to School Task Force, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.