November 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. 

Arkansas Department of Agriculture Accepting Applications for Farm to School Kitchen Equipment Grant Program

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is accepting applications for the new Farm to School Kitchen Equipment Grant Program. The goal of the new program to increase schools’ capacity to process and serve more specialty crops to students through cafeterias and other school feeding programs.


Applications will be accepted through December 8, 2023. This year, selected schools will receive grants of up to $5,000 to purchase equipment, improve school meal quality, and increase student consumption of specialty crops.

This grant program is available to public and private K-12 schools, early childhood education facilities, and alternative learning environments. Schools will be required to submit a budget proposal to line out the equipment that will be purchased with this funding and how that equipment will increase consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables in the cafeteria. Technical service is available to all grantees.

This grant program was developed using funding from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Specialty Crop Block Grant Program to increase the production and consumption of specialty crops in schools. Specialty crops are defined by the USDA as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, floriculture, and nursery crops.

Learn More and Apply

Arkansas Farm to School Month

Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders proclaimed October as Arkansas Farm to School Month. The proclamation was celebrated on October 26 at Forest Park Elementary School in Little Rock as part of nationwide efforts to connect schools, early childhood education sites, and other organizations with farms to bring local, healthy food to children.


At the Arkansas Farm to School Month celebration, the Arkansas Department of Agriculture and Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas presented awards to winners of the 2023 Arkansas Grown School Garden of the Year Contest. The winners are as follows: 

Best Start-Up School Garden Proposal:  

Joshua Academy, Van Buren (Crawford County), $500 Award

Best Education Based School Garden: 

Pinnacle View Middle School, Little Rock (Pulaski County), $500 Award

Ward Central Elementary School, Ward (Lonoke), $500 Award

Best Harvest Partnership School Garden:  

The Centers, Little Rock (Pulaski), $500 Award

Clinton High School, Clinton (Van Buren), $500 Award

Best Community Collaboration School Garden:  

Sheridan Intermediate School, Sheridan (Grant), $500 Award

Central Elementary School, Van Buren (Crawford), $500 Award

Best Overall School Garden:  

Hugh Goodwin Elementary School, El Dorado (Union), $1,000

Champion of School Garden Sustainability:  

Rena Elementary School, Van Buren (Crawford), $1,000

Learn More
View Event Photos
View Contest Winner Photos

The Arkansas Grown School Garden of the Year Contest was initiated by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture and Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas in 2014. The program provides the opportunity to promote the importance of involving young people in the process of fresh food production and cultivation. Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas generously provides the funding for the program.

Arkansas Grown Conference and Expo Scheduled for January 2024

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture will partner with several Arkansas agricultural associations and organizations to host the second Arkansas Grown Conference and Expo on January 25-27, 2024, at the Hot Springs Convention Center.

The Arkansas Grown Conference and Expo is open to all parties interested in the Arkansas agriculture industry and will focus on farmers and producers who produce for the local food system. In January 2023, the Department hosted the first Arkansas Grown Conference and Expo with over 450 attendees and 70 vendors.

The three-day event will consist of workshops, speakers, off-site farm tours, networking opportunities, and a vendor trade show.

Partner organizations include the Arkansas State Horticulture Society, Arkansas Farmers Market Association, Arkansas Blackberry Growers Association, Arkansas Agritourism Association, Arkansas Association of Grape Growers, Arkansas Pecan Growers Association, Mid America Strawberry Growers Association, and the Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts.

Registration includes access to general sessions, workshops, and entrance to the expo. Opportunities for sponsorship and vendor booths are available. For more information, contact Beth Moore at [email protected].

Learn More and Register


Lorrie Otto Seeds for Education Program

Deadline: November 15, 2023

The Wild Ones Lorrie Otto Seeds for Education Program (SFE) provides meaningful learning opportunities that connect youth to nature. For more than 25 years, this vital Wild Ones donor-funded program has provided grants ranging from $100 to $500 for native plant gardens and landscaping projects throughout the United States. The funds are designated for acquiring native plants and seeds for outdoor learning areas that engage youth directly in planning, planting, and caring for native plant gardens. Examples of outdoor learning areas include:

  • Pollinator gardens
  • Rain gardens to improve water quality
  • Tallgrass prairies
  • Native plant monarch waystations featuring community science activities
  • Sensory and natural playgrounds

The 2024 grant application will close on November 15 at 11:59 p.m. CT. Please contact [email protected] with questions or assistance with the application.

Learn More and Apply

2024 Youth Garden Grant

Deadline: December 15, 2023

Since 1982, the Youth Garden Grant has supported school and youth educational garden projects that enhance the quality of life for students and their communities. In 2024, fifty programs will receive award packages consisting of a cash prize and a variety of gardening tools and supplies.

Application Period: November 6, 2023 - December 15, 2023

Award Announcement: January 19, 2024

Learn More and Apply

SeedMoney Garden Grants

Deadline: December 15, 2023

SeedMoney is offering challenge grants to diverse food garden projects through a 30-day crowdfunding challenge running from November 15 to December 15. Grants are open to all types of public food garden projects (youth gardens, community gardens, food bank gardens, etc.) regardless of their location.

The size of a grant a project can receive depends on how much it is able to raise over the 30-day period compared to other projects participating in the challenge. This year, SeedMoney will be offering a total of 408 grants ranging from $100 to $1000. 

Learn More and Apply

Patrick Leahy Farm to School Grant Program

Deadline: January 12, 2024

The United Sates Department of Agriculture Patrick Leahy Farm to School Grant Program is designed to increase the availability of local foods in schools and help connect students to the sources of their food through education, taste tests, school gardens, field trips, and local food sourcing for school meals. Grants can launch new farm to school programs or expand existing efforts. The 2024 Farm to School Grant awards projects of 24 months in length for funding up to $100,000. Applicants are required to provide matching support of at least 25 percent of the total project budget in the form of cash or in-kind contributions. Applications are due January 12th. 

Learn More and Apply

Salad Bars to Schools Grant

The Salad Bars to Schools (SB2S) Program is a partnership between the Chef Ann Foundation and Whole Kids Foundation. Any district or independent school participating in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is eligible to apply. To qualify for a SB2S grant, you must offer the salad bar as part of the reimbursable meal served in your district. The food services director for your district is the required contact person for the application.

Learn More and Apply

Farm to School Opportunities

Midwest Dairy Virtual Dairy Farm Tour

On November 8, Midwest Dairy is hosting a webinar and virtual tour titled "Sustainability: A Tale of Two Dairy Farms" to showcase how dairy farmers are raising the bar on social and environmental sustainability. During this live virtual event, attendees will see firsthand how two different farms recycle, utilize technology, protect natural resources, and care for their animals to produce the nutritious milk used in all your favorite dairy products.

The deadline to register for the webinar is November 6.


Association of State Public Health Nutritionists Farm to Early Childhood Education Webinar Series

The Association of State Public Health Nutritionists (ASPHN) is hosting a 2023-2024 Farm to Early Care and Education (ECE) webinar series. The series will review topics, innovations, and ideas in farm to early care and education to help grow state or local programs. Webinars will be hosted on the following dates:

  • November 14 - Making Farm to ECE Changes Sustainable
  • December 12 - Creating Culturally Centered Farm to ECE Programs


Respond to the 2023 Farm to School Census

The United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service released the fourth Farm to School Census on October 2, and your participation counts! The census surveys all public, private, and charter school food authorities (SFAs) operating the National School Lunch Program about their farm to school relevant activities. The census results are publicly available, and the information is vital to help schools, partners, advocates, and producers understand the role of farm to school in supporting resilient local food systems and contributing to student experiences at school.

Learn More

Fall Harvest of the Season

Showcase your fall harvest or local produce featured in the cafeteria with our Harvest of the Season posters! Download materials showcasing facts on growing, prepping, and eating local fruits and vegetables.

Fall Harvest of the Season Resources
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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.