Fertile Ground designs farm to school evaluations to fit program and school community needs. We provide technical assistance with process evaluations [how a program is designed, who is involved, best practices] and impact evaluations [increases in local foods served in schools, changes in distribution systems, policy changes, changes of preferences]. We use a variety of different methods to measure, track and analyze the many impacts of farm to school programs on the school and community: the types of changes to local foods procurement; the impact on farms and the local economy; the barriers and points of traction to purchasing local produce; the methods of incorporating local foods and wellness knowledge in school curricula; and the key players involved in making the change happen, and the nature of these relationships.
We engage multiple partners [teachers, administrators, students, food service staff, community partners] in reflecting and evaluating through the duration of a project. Underlying this approach is the belief that for evaluation to create change, it needs to be useful and perceived useful by everyone involved. Methods need to be easy to use, educational, practical, representative of all the perspectives all the participants, and gathered quickly. Our goal is to have all voices heard.
We do this by a variety of methods:
- Listening sessions, interviews and interactive focus groups
- Interactive rapid market surveys
- Photovoice and video documentation