February 2022: Celebrating Black History Month
with Farm to School
Farm to school is about so much more than gardening with kids or serving local foods or nutrition education. It’s a way to build connections between education, food, culture, and community. The foods we grow, purchase, prepare, and serve are all reflections of our agricultural histories, cultures in our communities, and local ecosystems. 

In February, we celebrate Black History Month. Our agricultural landscapes are shaped by practices, foods, and innovations that African American and Black farmers and communities developed through ingenuity and necessity.

Take, for example, the work of Dr. Booker T. Whatley, who is widely credited as a founder of the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model during the U.S. Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and ‘70s. His regenerative agriculture method combined a pick-your-own model with diversified vegetable farming and direct marketing to membership-based clientele, which are systems widely used by many of our local Wisconsin vegetable farms to this day. You can read more about Dr. Whatley’s work and the history of CSA models here.

Midwestern urban agricultural models can also be traced back to the Civil Rights Movement. The Freedom Farms Cooperative, founded in the 1960s by Fannie Lou Hamer, was a place for Black farmers to grow food profitably, for and with their community. This paved the way for many of our modern day models of collaborative local food production. Learn more about the Freedom Farms Cooperative and how its history shapes midwestern urban agriculture practices today from UW Madison professor Dr. Monica White here.

While February is an official time to honor Black History Month, the conversations and education are part of year-round engagement in the histories, cultures, and stories that have shaped farm to school in our state and our country. There are so many ways that farm to school can create space and opportunities to explore our food, our culture, our communities, and our histories. This month, we will be highlighting resources aimed at drawing connections and sparking conversation around food, history, and culture for learners of all ages. We are also featuring curated lists of books that celebrate some of the history, contributions, and stories of African American gardeners, farmers, and cooks–which can be read in February and all year round.

-Renata Solan, Communications Director, Rooted/WI School Garden Network

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Throughout the newsletter, you will see these icons after descriptions of resources, funding opportunities, and more to help you find information that is right for your program:

Wisconsin Chili Lunch is Thursday, Feb. 24!

Celebrate Wisconsin-grown foods and farm to institution efforts by joining the 2022 Wisconsin Chili Lunch. Join K-12 schools, early care and education programs, hospitals, colleges, and more by cooking and serving a chili recipe made with local ingredients on National Chili Day—Thursday, February 24th, 2022! Learn more and register here.
Joke of the Month
Those of you joining us from the Wisconsin School Garden Network Newsletter are already familiar with our monthly jokes. We're excited to expand our corn-y humor beyond the garden! Click the green joke of the month button below to see the answer to this month's joke and to see Wisconsin School Garden Network's library of past jokes.
Have a farm to school joke to share? Email Rooted's Communications Director Renata Solan at
Joke of the Month: How did the farmer fix a hole in her clothes?
Tools & Resources

Garden-based Black History Month in the Classroom

Big Green has compiled a set of books and other media that feature stories and contributions of African American children and adults in the food and garden space. Organized by age with books for students in elementary school, middle school, and high school, this list is excellent for Black History Month and all year round. View resource.

Create Signs for Culturally Relevant Plants

While some foods may have unique value to certain cultures, different children may have varied connections with the same plant. Creating garden signage that represents these foods celebrates diversity, emphasizes the importance of learning about different cultures, and ultimately helps instill pride and ownership in young gardeners. Adaptable for all ages. View resource.

Growing School Food Gardens

The Growing School Food Gardens group is live on the Kids Garden Community! This community is designed to facilitate networking and collaboration among school food garden practitioners locally, regionally, and nationally. Members are invited to join monthly webinars covering a variety of topics, including STEAM in the garden on March 8. Join the conversation.

Black History Month: A Brief History of Agriculture in the United States

This resource offers an overview of the agricultural history of the US along with short bios of Black visionaries and Black-led organizations leading the way in shaping and reforming our agricultural landscapes, practices, and values. It also includes a bibliography full of more resources that dig deeper. View resource.

Americorps Farm to School Wisconsin Local FoodsDatabase

In celebration of the upcoming Wisconsin Chili Lunch event, all the producers in the database that have chili ingredients have been highlighted! Be on the lookout for the WCL logo that denotes vendors who sell products you may be using in your chili. Can't wait to see what you make! View resource.

Autoevaluación de farm to early care and education (de la granja a la educación infantil)

National Farm to School Network is excited to share the new Spanish language version of Farm to ECE Self-Assessment, developed in partnership with the Association of State Public Health Nutritionists (ASPHN), designed to help ECE providers and those who work with ECE providers assess their current farm to ECE practices and develop goals and action plans to grow farm to ECE at their site. Find both the Spanish and English version of the self-assessment here. View resource.
Webinars, Conferences, Events & Trainings
Green Thumb Gardening – Winter Vegetable Series Online
January 10 - March 21, 2022 // Union South, Madison, WI // Virtual
The Green Thumb Gardening class series will give you the practical knowledge to keep your home garden thriving! Dane County Extension educators and local horticulture experts provide in depth and accessible information for everyone from the novice to the experienced gardener. Register for the complete class series at a discounted price.
 Learn more and register here.
Virtual Discussion on Local Food Purchasing Cooperative Agreement Program
February 15, 2022 // 1:00-2:30 p.m. // Virtual
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) invites food security and local food system organizations to attend a virtual strategic planning discussion regarding the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Local Food Purchasing Cooperative Agreement Program (LFPA). 
Learn more and register here.

Signs of Spring: Activities with Young Children
February 15, 2022 // 5:30 p.m. // Virtual
Join Denver Urban Garden’s youth education team online for an engaging hour of activities and ideas guaranteed to put a SPRING in your step! Whether you’re a parent or teacher, come hone your senses to the signs of spring. 
Learn more and register here.

Community Chat: Planting Considerations for Youth Gardens
February 16, 2022 // 2:00-3:00 p.m. // Virtual
Join our second "Community Chat" of 2022 to ask questions and share ideas about planting a garden space and selecting and sourcing plants for indoor and outdoor settings. Topics can include companion planting, border crops, plants for ground cover, kid-friendly plants, and anything else you'd like to discuss. From those new to gardening to seasoned educators, everyone is welcome! 
Learn more and register here.

Culturally Responsive Place-based Education Series 
Multiple Dates // Virtual
MSU Tollgate Farm is hosting a professional development series for formal and non-formal educators about learning to better incorporate the perspectives of those with whom we work in schools and educational programs. Educators have a chance to deepen their teaching practice in a safe online space for open conversation and community.
March 3, 2022 // 5:30-7:30 p.m.: Engaging with LGTBQIA+ Communities in Formal and Non-Formal Settings
April 7, 2022 // 5:30-7:30 p.m.: A Latinx Lens: Incorporating Latinx Perspectives through Place-Based Education
May 5, 2022 // 5:30-7:30 p.m.: Incorporating Asian Principles, Practices, and People in Community-Based Learning

Learn more and register here.
SGSO Network Webinar: Indicators of Successful School Gardens 
March 25, 2022 // Virtual
Join school garden researchers from across the country to learn about what makes a school garden successful. 
Learn more and register here.

Growing School Gardens Summit 
April 22-25, 2022 // Denver, CO
The Growing School Gardens Summit is a gathering designed to support shared work to strengthen the school garden movement at local and national levels so that all children and youth can have vibrant, resilient school garden programs. As the first-ever national gathering focused entirely on school gardening, the summit will unite educators and leaders to share innovations and harness our collective power for future change. 
Learn more and register here.

Funding Opportunities
RFA open for USDA Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program
Deadline: April 5, 2022 
The purpose of this program is to maintain and improve food and agricultural supply chain resiliency and the program will award up to $400 million through non-competitive cooperative agreements with state and tribal governments to support local, regional, and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers through the purchase of domestic local foods.
 Learn more here.

Partner Up! Grant Program from Project Growth
Deadline: N/A
The Partner Up! grant program will provide $10 million in funding to support partnerships between essential businesses who purchase slots at existing regulated child care providers. The funding from this program can be used to increase staff compensation, pay expenses, reserve child care slots for local business employees, improve the quality of a child care program, and more.
 Learn more here.

Job Opportunities
USDA: Farm to School Regional Lead
Deadline: February 15, 2022
Farm to School Regional Leads help deepen and broaden farm to school across the region. Farm to School Regional Leads manage USDA Farm to School grants, build capacity & connectivity among State agency and Extension partners, support networks, provide training & technical assistance to a variety of stakeholders, and help disseminate research & best practices. Learn more here.
DPI: Nutrition Education Consultant
Deadline: February 15, 2022
Are you interested in contributing to the wellness, healthy growth, and development of children throughout Wisconsin? The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) is currently seeking applicants for a Nutrition Education Consultant position for the School Nutrition Team with the Division for Finance and Management. Learn more here.
FairShare CSA Coalition: Aggregation Project Coordinator
Deadline: Open until filled
The Aggregation Project Coordinator will work with diversified vegetable farmers, organizational partners, and FairShare staff to determine the feasibility of an aggregated sales through CSA and/or other local markets - sourcing primarily from HMoob farmers. This work will be done through farmer trainings, a consumer survey, and a pilot aggregated sales program to launch in 2023. Candidates should speak both HMoob and English. Learn more here.
News & Policy Updates

Recognizing and Supporting School Meal Programs as a Critical Nutrition Safety Net: Lessons from COVID-19

This brief summarizes the results from a study that investigated how food service directors from 12 of the largest SFAs in the United States tackled the challenge of providing school meals when school was out and how this “stress test” on the school meal system revealed ways to potentially strengthen the financial model for SFAs in the future. Read the brief.

USDA Announces Increased Funding to Support School Meals and to Help Continue Serving Healthy Meals to Kids

“USDA understands that balancing the pressures of the pandemic with the need to feed children healthy and nutritious meals continues to be a priority for schools across the country,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. USDA press release, January 7, 2022. Read more.

USDA Food and Nutrition Service seeking input from providers on 2023 Family Day Care Home Participation Study

The planned survey asks a nationally representative sample of current and former CACFP-participating daycare homes about their experiences with the program. They are currently requesting feedback on the methods of data collection that would be most accurate and least burdensome for daycare homes to complete. If you are someone who may participate in this survey please consider giving your input. Comments are due in the online portal by February 28, 2022. Learn more.

Learning Beyond the Classroom: Fulton County School Nutrition Celebrates Black History Month

From Fulton County, GA, 2021: "Each month Fulton cafes recognize a different cultural cuisine to explore nutrition, culture, and culinary traditions while marketing the offerings of their menus. This initiative celebrates the many cultural backgrounds that make up Fulton County Schools’ students, teachers, and staff. This month they are celebrating Black History Month, honoring black culture and remembering those who have made great strides throughout history." Read more.
Feature Story
Many months, the newsletter will have a feature story. Our feature stories will include Farm to School tales from around the state. Want to share your story with the Wisconsin Farm to School community? Email Rooted's Communications Director Renata Solan at
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Copyright © 2021, Growing Together: Wisconsin's Farm to School/ECE and School Garden Newsletter, All rights reserved.


Growing Together: Wisconsin's Farm to School/ECE and School Garden Newsletter is a collaboration of Rooted and Wisconsin School Garden Network. Growing Together is published and distributed by Rooted.

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