June 2023

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. 

Welcome New State School Garden Manager!

We are excited to introduce Katie Matthews who recently accepted the position of Arkansas Farm to School State Garden Manager at the Arkansas Department of Agriculture!

Katie was born and raised in Northwest Arkansas but has made Little Rock her home since 2016. She holds a bachelor's degree in biology from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and a Master of Public Service degree from the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service. She previously served the state through the AmeriCorps program, FarmCorps, and with local organizations like the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance and the Central Arkansas Library System to assist with farming and gardening, conduct community outreach, and lead nutrition education programs. While working on her post-graduate degree, Katie worked with Be Mighty Little Rock, a city-wide campaign housed by the Central Arkansas Library System, aimed at connecting youth and their families to free after-school and summer meals, food security resources, and garden and cooking-based nutrition education in the library setting. In her free time, you may find Katie out in the garden, cooking her favorite meal, or on a walk with her dog Nala.

Reach out to Katie at [email protected].

Farm to School Opportunities

Webinar: Food Plating with a Purpose

June 22, 2023, 2:00-2:30 p.m. Eastern Time

Having challenges with children eating certain foods? The way we present nutritious foods to children is a powerful tool that encourages them to eat healthier meals and snacks. Why not make it a little fun? By introducing fun shapes and designs to a single plate or family style dish, children may be persuaded to try these new or challenging foods. Attend this webinar from the National Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) Sponsors Association to learn how you can easily construct enticing plates and receive recipe ideas to inspire new creations!


Adopt a Cow with Discovery Dairy

Registration: May 1 - September 15, 2023

The Adopt a Cow Program is a free year-long experience for your classroom! Educators in a traditional classroom setting or other after-school and out-of-school programs are all eligible to sign up. Once paired with a calf from a United States dairy farm, you will receive progress about her growth and other exciting updates, like photos, live chats from the farm, activity sheets, and lessons!

Learn More and Register

National Children & Youth Garden Symposium

July 12-15, 2023, Knoxville, Tennessee

The American Horticultural Society is excited to announce that the 2023 National Children and Youth Garden Symposium will be held in Knoxville, Tennessee, July 12 – 15, in partnership with the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture and UT Gardens, Knoxville, the flagship location of the State Botanical Gardens. Reinvigorate your passion to educate a new generation about the importance of gardening. Network, engage, collaborate, and learn from like-minded peers across the country. Explore the vibrant city of Knoxville with its numerous green spaces and innovative, citizen-driven gardening projects.

Learn More and Register Here

Nature-Based Early Learning Conference

July 24-28, 2023

The Natural Start Alliance's annual conference is the nation's largest professional event for teaching, administration, research, and advocacy in nature-based early learning. Registration includes access to a week full of live conference sessions, library of on-demand sessions, virtual site tours, featured sessions, a conference workshop, and professional development certificates for every session attended.


Grants and Funding

Arkansas Grown School Garden of the Year Contest

Deadline: June 11, 2023

Entries are being accepted for the tenth annual Arkansas Grown School Garden of the Year Contest, sponsored by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture and the Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas. Applicants may be any school, early childhood education facility, or alternative learning environment that had a school garden during the 2022-2023 school year or is planning to start a garden in the 2023-2024 school year.

Applicants are eligible to apply for the following categories:

  • Best Start-Up School Garden Proposal - $500 Award
  • Best Education Based School Garden - $500 Award
  • Best Harvest Partnership School Garden - $500 Award
  • Best Community Collaboration School Garden - $500 Award
  • Best Overall School Garden - $1000 Award
  • Champion of School Garden Sustainability - $1000 Award

Learn More

National Garden Bureau: Therapeutic Garden Grant

Deadline: July 1, 2023

The National Garden Bureau promotes the health and healing powers of human interaction with plants through an annual grant program for therapeutic gardens. Three established therapeutic gardens will be selected to receive a grant to help expand or maintain the therapeutic garden. In addition to the grant funding, the selected gardens will also receive a set of Corona Gardening Tools. Schools, non-profits, hospitals, retirement centers, rehabilitation facilities, veteran’s facilities, community centers, day camps, treatment facilities, and inter-generational groups throughout the United States are eligible. Applicants must document that they have had a therapeutic garden program for at least one year at the time of application with at least a five-year commitment for the garden to remain on that property.


Green Our Planet Grant Programs Now Open

Deadline: July 21, 2023

Applications are now being accepted for the Green Our Planet GardenConnect and HydroConnect grant programs. The GardenConnect program provides schools support and guidance from the educators at Green Our Planet as they develop or expand their school garden. This program is valued at $3,500, and Green Our Planet will cover the full cost of the program for up to 100 schools. The HydroConnect program provides schools with equipment to install a hydroponic garden system and offers support and guidance from the educators at Green Our Planet. This program is valued at $10,000, and Green Our Planet will cover 80% of the costs of the program for up to 300 schools. Schools are responsible for $2,000 in total. Schools must apply by July 21, 2023 to be considered.

Learn More and Apply

Farm to School Resources

American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture Resources & Lessons Plans

The mission of the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture is to build awareness, understanding, and a positive public perception of agriculture through education. Find downloadable activities and lesson plans about agriculture and links to more agricultural education materials.

Find Resources

Summer Meals Resource Guide

With summer rapidly approaching, many organizations are working hard to ensure children have access to the meals they need while schools are out of session. As a member of the Healthy Food Community of Practice, No Kid Hungry worked with a group of national organizations to create this list of resources on summer meals. Resources include guidance on a range of topics, including ways to access meals, how to become a summer meals site or sponsor, examples from other programs, and more.

Learn More
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The Arkansas Department of Agriculture offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability and is an Equal Opportunity Employer.