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MA Schools Reap the Harvest

September 19, 2011

BOSTON - Students and farmers across the Bay State are winners during the sixth annual Massachusetts Harvest Week that gets under way today. The focus of the week is celebrating the connections between schools and local farms.

Schools, colleges and universities across the state are working together this week to feed students healthy and locally sourced meals. Emily French, technical assistance coordinator of the Massachusetts Farm to School Project, says there are great benefits in getting local food on the cafeteria tray.

"It's much fresher than food coming from the West Coast, it's very nutritious and it's also supporting our local agricultural economy."

The Massachusetts Farm to School Project organizes the harvest event in association with the state Department of Agriculture.

French says talking about locally sourced food is also a great opportunity for a teaching moment in many classrooms.

"This teaches both the students and the staff about where their food is coming from, and about food products that they might not have ever seen before."

Jessica Ouimet, a fifth grade teacher in West Springfield, also farms at Russell Mountain Farm and Orchard. She says last year students were so energized by the program, they took action.

"They did actually write a letter to the superintendent and the food services director requesting that more local foods, more fresh foods, be brought in."

Ouimet says her classes do things like visit farmers markets and spend time in gardens to learn where food comes from.

More information about the Farm to School Project is available at
www.mass.gov/agr/markets/Farm_to_School.

Glen Gardner, Public News Service - MA