Farm-School Partnership Celebration at James Madison Middle School Garden

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The City of Roanoke Public Schools, LEAP, and Virginia Cooperative Extension will gather in the grounds of James Madison Middle School to celebrate their hard work for a USDA Farm to School planning grant.



On Tuesday, June 28, Roanoke City Public Schools (RCPS), Local Environmental Agriculture Project (LEAP), and Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) will gather in the garden of James Madison Middle School to celebrate the resources created, relationships established, and the foundation laid for future growth through a USDA Farm to School planning grant.

The event will begin at 9:15 a.m. with a presentation from the leaders of the Farm to School Partnership, which will include a description of the work accomplished since the grant’s inception in July 2020. Following the presentation, lively activity stations by a wide range of community partners will be made available to the media. From 10:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., students participating in the fifth term of RCPS, RCPS+, will begin cycling through hands-on activities. At 10:30 a.m., the public portion of the event will end.

Throughout the day, RCPS+ students will continue to learn about healthy eating, local foods, composting, clean water, and gardening. Educational farm-to-school activities will address the disciplines of health and nutrition, gardening and local food systems, and composting and food waste. Activities will be led by school and community partners such as: LEAP, RCPS Food & Nutrition Services, the Roanoke Master Gardener Association led by VCE, The Harvest Collective, Carilion Community Health and Outreach, and RCPS’ Roanoke Technical Education Center.

“This is a great opportunity for Farm to School stakeholders and the wider community to see what Farm to School programs can look like in action,” said Maureen McGonagle, LEAP Regional Partnerships Director.

On July 1, 2020, LEAP and VCE received a United States Department of Agriculture Farm to School Planning Grant in partnership with RCPS to fund relationship building and action planning for Farm to School programs in the town of Roanoke. Despite the challenges of launching this effort during the COVID-19 pandemic, the partnership has created resources and laid the foundation for future farm-to-school programs in RCPS. During the planning grant period, LEAP and VCE created a new Farm to School website (https://sites.google.com/vt.edu/farmtoschool/home?authuser=0) and provided the month’s crop of lesson plans and videos to serve educators and students. An 18-member farm-to-school advisory committee met regularly during the grant period. Gardens were built at Hurt Park Elementary School and Lucy Addison Middle School, and more than 12 farm-to-school events were held.

For more information about the Farm to School event, the USDA Planning Grant, or LEAP, contact Maureen McGonagle at [email protected]


About LEAP:

The Local Environmental Agriculture Project (LEAP) is a Roanoke-based 501c3 nonprofit organization. Founded in 2009, LEAP’s mission is to foster healthy communities and resilient local food systems. LEAP programs include: two farmers markets, a mobile market, an online market, a farm share, a food center, a commercial kitchen, four community gardens and strong nutrition incentive programs. LEAP also works with community partners throughout the region on initiatives that promote farm-to-community and food system development. LEAP is the lead organization for Virginia Fresh Match, a statewide network of markets and outlets that makes fruits and vegetables more affordable for SNAP participants.


About VCE:

Virginia Cooperative Extension is an educational outreach partnership between Virginia Tech and Virginia State University whose mission is to provide education in the areas of agriculture and natural resources, family and consumer sciences, community sustainability and 4-H youth development to provide solutions to issues facing Virginians. . The Family Nutrition Program’s role in this mission is to teach families and youth with limited resources how to make healthy food choices and become good stewards of available food resources for optimal health and growth. Funded by the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education (SNAP-Ed) and Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), their programs focus on basic nutrition, physical activity, safe food handling and thrifty food purchases. To learn more about the Family Nutrition Program, visit their website, www.eatsmartmovemoreva.org.

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