December 2021

The Farm to School and Early Childhood Education Program is committed to providing equitable and just programming, resources, funding, and technical assistance to schools, farmers, and partners in the local food system. 
Farm to School Coordinator Announced 
We are excited to announce that Erica Benoit has accepted the position of Farm to School and Early Childhood Education Program Coordinator at the Arkansas Department of Agriculture. Before moving into this position, Erica was the Department's State School Garden Manager.

Erica is an Arkansas native, though she spent the last few years in Washington State earning her Master of Environmental Studies degree. While there, she also worked for the Sustainability in Prisons Project providing environmental education and nature access to incarcerated individuals in Washington State prisons. Erica graduated from Hendrix College in 2017 with a Bachelor in Environmental Studies/Spanish and then served as an AmeriCorps VISTA service member at the Arkansas Children’s Research Institute, the National Farm to School Network’s former core partner for Arkansas. Erica’s passion for food justice has fueled all her career and academic endeavors, and she is excited to continue this important work in a new capacity.

Reach Erica via email at erica.benoit@agriculture.arkansas.gov.
Farm to School Grants Deadline Reminder
The deadline to submit applications for the Arkansas School Garden Grant Program and the Arkansas Taste Test Grant Program is this Friday, December 10, 2021. Applicants are welcome to apply for both grant opportunities through the same application.

The grant programs were established by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture to help schools start or expand farm to school activities. The grant programs are available to public and private K-12 schools, early childhood education facilities, and alternative learning environments. All eligible schools are encouraged to apply, whether they already have existing farm to school activities or they are just getting started with school gardens and local procurement.

More information about the Arkansas School Garden Grant Program and Arkansas Taste Test Grant Program can be found here, or by contacting Erica Benoit at erica.benoit@agriculture.arkansas.gov.
Farm to School Opportunities
Sanitation for Strawberry Growers Training
Choose between December 14, 2021, 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. CT or January 11, 2021, 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. CT
Are you interested in or planning to grow strawberries in your school garden?
The Arkansas Produce Safety team at the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, along with the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture and Clemson University, are offering a FREE produce safety grower training focused on food and farm safety for strawberry production. Many of the safety practices and principles taught in this training can be applied beyond just strawberries!
Growing School Gardens Summit
April 22-25, 2022 in Denver, Colorado
The Growing School Gardens Summit, hosted by the Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation in partnership with Life Lab and the School Garden Support Organization (SGSO) Network, is the first-ever national gathering focused entirely on school gardening. The summit is designed to unite educators and leaders to share innovations and promising practices and to harness our collective power to strengthen and sustain the school garden movement.
Grants and Funding
Gro More Good Garden Grant
Amount: $2,500 - $5,000
Deadline: December 15, 2021

In collaboration with the Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation and KidsGardening, the National Head Start Association's Gro More Good Garden Grants Initiative will award garden grants to supplement needs of existing garden projects and to help launch new garden or outdoor green space projects. The Initiative will award a total of $50,000 in grant awards. Grant amounts will vary depending on the demonstrated need and application proposal provided.
Youth Garden Grant
Amount: $1,050 - $2,200
Deadline: December 17, 2021
KidsGardening will award Youth Garden Grants to a total of 50 programs in 2022. All winning programs will receive a check for $250, and materials to grow their garden program. Forty programs will receive packages worth $1,050, five programs will receive the base package plus a $1,000 tool grant from Corona Tools, and five programs will receive the base package plus two Garden Towers from Garden Tower Project! Any nonprofit organization, public or private school, or youth program in the United States or U.S. Territories planning a new garden program or expanding an established one that serves at least 15 youth between the ages of 3 and 18 is eligible to apply.
USDA 2022 Farm to School Grant Program Request for Applications
Amount: up to $500,000
Deadline: January 10, 2021
The Farm to School Grant Program Request for Applications (RFA) is open until January 10, 2022! The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service seeks to award up to $12 million this fiscal year (FY2022). Eligible schools, institutions operating the Child and Adult Care Food Program and Summer Food Service Program, State and local agencies, Indian Tribal Organizations, small- to medium-sized agricultural producers or groups of small- to medium-sized agricultural producers, and non-profit organizations are eligible to apply for Farm to School grants. Please see the RFA for full details.