Every year in October we celebrate Arkansas Farm to School Month across the state. This recognition is part of nationwide efforts to connect schools, early childhood education sites, and other organizations with farms to bring local, healthy food to children. The National Farm to School Network first started this trend in 2010 by having National Farm to School Month designated by Congress. Since then, more and more states have joined in with celebrations.
Arkansas has been formally recognizing Arkansas Farm to School Month since 2014 when then-governor Mike Beebe first proclaimed October as Arkansas Farm to School Month. Governor Asa Hutchinson has continued the tradition every year since.
This year, Arkansas Farm to School Month is themed “Growing Together,” and there are many ways to get involved! Don’t forget to share with us what activities you have planned. To help schools, farms, and individuals spread the news, the Arkansas Department of Agriculture created a media and promotion toolkit that included resources, graphics, language, and examples to promote Arkansas Farm to School activities.
The Farm to School and Early Childhood Education Program through the Arkansas Department of Agriculture is hosting its first ever recipe contest for Arkansas Farm to School Month. The program invites K-12 schools, early childhood education facilities, and alternative learning environments across the state to participate in the Arkansas Farm to School Cook Off! Students have the opportunity to showcase their interests, creativity, and skills by submitting a recipe to be featured in the Arkansas Farm to School Kids’ Cookbook, a cookbook made by kids for kids.
To celebrate the great seasonal products that Arkansas has to offer, recipes will feature fall seasonal ingredients. Visit the Harvest of the Season Fall page to learn more about what products are in season now.
Students may submit recipes individually or in a group. All entries will have the chance to be featured in the cookbook, but one winner will be selected for the best recipe!
THE GRAND PRIZE: Lights, camera, action! The winning student or group of students will have the opportunity to share their recipe with the state on KATV’s Good Morning Arkansas program.
Join other schools in the state to celebrate farm to school! We will gather at Pinnacle View Middle School on October 12, 2022 at 11:00 am to 12:00 pm CST. You will hear a message from Governor Hutchinson and the Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward. Banners will be presented to the winners of the 2022 Arkansas Grown School Garden of the Year Contest during the event. You will also have the chance to win some fun farm to school prizes for attending!
October is a great time of the year to apply for grant funding to grow your farm to school activities in the school garden, classroom, or cafeteria. There are many open grant opportunities that can support these efforts. Additionally, the Arkansas Department of Agriculture will also open applications to their Arkansas School Garden Grant Program and the Arkansas Taste Test Grant Program on November 1, 2022.
In 2021, we connected schools, farms, and the community to local food!
To connect students to local food, we encouraged schools to participate in the Great Farm to School Transformation and transform their garden space for the opportunity to receive a certificate and free consultation with the Arkansas Farm to School Team.
We also hosted a very successful Virtual Farm Tour with Midwest Dairy to visit a dairy farm in Bentonville, Arkansas! Over 5,000 people attended the event on Zoom, which inspired the farmers to name one of their baby cows Zoom too!
In 2020, we celebrated local! From the farmers who grow our food, to the educators and parents who teach children about gardening, cooking, and nutrition, we together, created a strong local food system. #ARF2SMonth #CelebrateLocal
To Celebrate Local, we ate local, grew local, and learned about local food.
Another way we Celebrated Local was by joining the Arkansas Department of Agriculture and Heifer USA’s virtual farm field trip.
In 2019, we hosted the Arkansas Farm to School Celebration at the Capitol. Partners, teachers, legislators, and students attended the event.
Governor Asa Hutchinson proclaimed October as Arkansas Farm to School Month, the Arkansas Grown School Garden of the Year Contest winners were recognized, and a roundtable of booths and information concluded the event.
Also, farm to school champions Ally Mrachek, Child Nutrition Director at Fayetteville Public Schools, and Maegan Brown, Child Nutrition Manager at Conway Public Schools, visited Senator Cotton in Washington D.C. to share about the importance of farm to school. Similarly Destiny Schlinker, Arkansas Program Associate Director at FoodCorps, met with Senator Boozman to talk about the Kids Eat Local Act.
In 2018, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson proclaimed October as Arkansas Farm to School Month. During the official ceremony, the Governor also took time to honor and celebrate the 2018 Arkansas Grown School Garden of the Year Contest winners.