Ohio State University Extension will host a Farm to School Conference March 13 for those interested in starting or expanding a farm to school program.

OSU Extension, with the support of the Ohio departments of education, health and agriculture, will host the conference as part of its goal to continue to expand the successful program, which works to increase students’ access to healthy foods and to help them learn more about food, health, nutrition and agriculture, said Julie Fox, director of the Ohio Farm to School program.

Farm to School is a national program, which in Ohio is led by OSU Extension and is supported by numerous agencies, foundations and industry organizations.

The conference theme is “Let’s Grow! Farm to School,” and will include three keynote presentations, 10 panel sessions, a curriculum showcase, a salad bar showcase and other displays designed to illustrate opportunities farmers, schools and community leaders have to work together to increase students' knowledge and access to healthy foods, she said.

Keynote speakers include Anupama Joshi, executive director, national Farm to School Network; Deborah Kane, national director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm to School Program; and Debra Eschmeyer, director of policy and partnerships, FoodCorps. OSU Extension Director Keith Smith and other leaders in Ohio will also join in the day of information sharing, networking and fun.

“This event is going to be something special, thanks to so many dynamic speakers, generous sponsors and a strong statewide Extension network,” Fox said. “It’s inspiring when food providers, school personnel pre-K though college; and community leaders join together to make a difference for Ohio’s youth and economy.

Panel sessions will include:

  • Local Food Procurement, Opportunities for Food Service Buyers and Farmers
  • Hands-on Farm to School Education
  • It Takes a Village - Farm to School Partnerships
  • Finding Farm to School Funding and Resources
  • Students Grow: Classroom Containers, School Gardens, Student Farms
  • Food Safety is Everyone’s Business
  • Telling the Story, Farm to School Communications
  • World Café Roundtable: Student Health and Local Food Access

Registration for the Ohio Farm to School Conference, which will be held at the Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center, 2201 Fred Taylor Drive, is now open to the first 250 registered participants, Fox said.

The conference runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Registration is $50 and includes conference materials, a jump drive with Farm to School resources, breakfast, lunch, free parking and more. Registration can be done online at http://go.osu.edu/F2SRegistration

For more information on Ohio’s Farm to School program, visit http://farmtoschool.osu.edu