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“This project is a really valuable and progressive program that feeds off the growing interest in local food production.” Massachusetts State Representative Steve Kulik.

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Who we are:
Fertile Ground is a leading farm to school initiative that empowers children, youth and their families to make smart food choices, to work together across race, class and difference, and to become engaged citizens, improving their communities through school gardens, food celebrations, and caring for the land.

Our role in furthering farm to school efforts in the Pioneer Valley has evolved to coach, mentor and learning partner in urban, rural, suburban communities.

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What we do:
We provide children with food education now. Children are growing up in a fast-food culture, detached from where food comes from, how it is produced, and how it affects their bodies and minds. According to the National Farm to School Network and the White House, one-third of U.S. children are overweight or obese; 1 in 3 children born in the year 2000 will develop diabetes and the rates are 1 in 2 if the child is black or Hispanic.

We provide teachers, food service, school administrations, parents with needed outside support to make farm to school successful in their communities ): strategic planning, identifying potential community partners, fund raising, program design.

We design Farm to School evaluation and research, using community based, participatory methods(link to tab 4 program eval). Participatory Evaluation is a collaborative approach to determining effectiveness of programs in which everyone involved in the project [young people, parents, teachers, administrators, community partners] actively engages in designing the evaluation and all phases of its practice. Participatory Action Research is a community-led research and analysis process that creates change. Members identify shared values, build research methods or tools around their questions, and build a shared vision of change.

We positively influence regional economic resiliency through farm to school efforts that impact systems and policy changes from the grassroots to the state level.

“Research shows that students perform better in school when a parent is involved in his/her child’s education. Family hands-on activities that model the value of learning, self discipline, and hard work found in the practice of gardening are exactly the type that promote long term educational benefits for children.” –Alfred J. Venne, Principal of Williamsburg School