In Southern Appalachia, Farm to School Training Builds Connections, Economics and Health.
With the great excitement over farm to institution efforts comes questions about how to make these efforts successful and a desire to share best practices far and wide. In 2009, North Carolina's Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP) secured funding from the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program for a two-year regional project to build the capacity of agricultural professionals, communities and Cooperative Extension agents engaged in farm to school activities. (Extension agents staff land-grant universities throughout the country and provide technical assistance, education and financial planning resources to the public.)
The first step for the Building Capacity: Farm to School project was a "train the trainers" conference in 2011. State teams from North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia designed and implemented a farm to school training. More than 100 Extension professionals gathered to learn how to integrate farm to school into their work. This training can also be taken on the road, reaching far more schools and producers than could be reached by one conference. ASAP estimates that local food sales contributed $62 million to the local economy in 2010.