Farm to School Opportunity, Harvesting Life Lessons and Nutrition Education

November 28, 2011

By Brittany Wright, Media and Outreach Specialist

“I believe that American agriculture can and will hold true to the best traditions of our national life and that I can exert an influence in my home and community which will stand solid for my part in that inspiring task.”- FFA Creed

Last month, I traveled to Sparta, Mich. with a group of Canter Middle School students to learn how apples go from Midwestern orchards to Chicago lunch trays. Canter students learned about the various varieties of apples and picked a few to take home!

DSC_0014For me, this was an exciting endeavor, not only because apple-picking is the perfect activity for autumn, but because I knew how much this educational experience would mean to the students.  

I attended the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences (go Cyclones!), a Chicago Public School where students learn about agriculture through related vocational curricula: horticulture, animal science, food science, agriculture mechanics, and agribusiness. And yes, the school has a farm! In fact, I graduated with a greenhand degree! Not everyone can say they were a part of the largest chapter of a national farmer’s association or participated in dairy judging as a teen, especially in an urban environment like Chicago.

Seeing these kids receive that exposure reminded me of my time as a high school student and how it broadened my view of agriculture. These students didn’t just learn about apples, they learned about life. The Riveridge trip also provided them with a unique opportunity to engage with food in a different way; they were able to meet the people who provide their schools with apples and learn how food production works.

When these kids take a bite of an apple during their school lunch, I hope they’ll remember that they visited the orchards where it grew. More importantly, I hope this exposure to agriculture plays a role in their decision to live healthy, active lifestyles.

It was delightful to see kids plucking Honey Crisp and Golden Delicious apples from the trees and discussing the nutritional value of the delectable fruit. 

DSC_0004 rszRiveridge employees graciously provided our group with a guided tour. Students were in awe when they learned that there were more than 3,000 varieties of apples!

This is just one example of how amazing Farm to School programs create memorable lessons outside of the classroom. Agriculture and nutrition education provide an engaging opportunity to support farmers and teach students about food systems and eating well. Students gain valuable knowledge from educational field trips and hands-on experiences like our trip to the apple orchard.

We are grateful for Riveridge’s efforts to create opportunities to learn about healthy eating!

October was National Farm to School Month, but you can continue to learn about fun and exciting activities though our latest Farm to School updates on the HSC blog.