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Posts Tagged: FARM SMART

October is National Farm-to-School Month

Partner with the University of California for National Farm to School Month.
Schools across the country are celebrating local connections to local food producers in October during National Farm to School Month. Education and outreach activities such as school gardens, cooking lessons and field trips are teaching students about healthy, local foods and food's journey from the farm to their forks.

There are plenty of opportunities for teachers and schools to celebrate and get involved in National Farm to School Month with the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR). Here are a few ideas to get you started.

4-H youth development

Launch a 4-H Club at your school. The 4-H Youth Development Program emphasizes enrichment education through inquiry-based learning. Core content areas include Healthy Living as well as Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). Clubs have access to a wealth of curricula materials exploring food, agriculture and natural resources. 4-H also offers the Ag in the Classroom school enrichment program.

Lettuce planting delights young gardeners.
Boots on the ground

Invite UC ANR academics and program staff to your career day or science fair or to make a classroom presentation. Specialists from Master Gardeners, Nutrition Education, Project Learning Tree, California Naturalist and other UC ANR programs know how to engage and inspire your students.

Some programs, including Project Learning Tree, offer "train the trainer" professional development workshops that equip educators with the skills and knowledge to teach concepts in their own classrooms. Project Learning Tree also provides free activity guides to teachers who attend their workshops. The guides highlight differentiated instruction, reading connections, and assessment strategies and offer ideas to integrate technology into classroom instruction,

Research and Extension Centers

Take your students on a field trip to a UC ANR Research and Extension Center (REC). The nine RECs in California are focal points for community participation and for active involvement in current and relevant regional agricultural and natural resource challenges.

Visiting a REC offers students a unique opportunity to learn about food production through the lens of applied science research in plant pathology, integrated pest management, conservation tillage, water conservation, development of new crop varieties, and much more. Some RECs also host extended education programs such as Sustainable You! Summer Camp and FARM SMART.

Students learn about post-harvest research at the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center.
Take the first step

The 2016 National Farm to School Month theme is One Small Step, which highlights the easy ways anyone can get informed, get involved and take action to advance farm to school in their own communities and across the country.

Each week will have a different focus:

  • Education (October 3-7)
  • Healthy School Meals (October 10-14)
  • Farmers & Producers (October 17-21)
  • The Next Generation (October 24-28)

Join the celebrations by signing the One Small Step pledge then take your own small step to support healthy kids, thriving farms and vibrant communities this October by partnering with UC ANR.

This story en español.


Posted on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 at 7:29 AM
  • Author: Roberta Barton

UC ANR's Farm Smart extends ag information to the public

Nancy Caywood Robertson at the 2014 Farm Smart celebration.
The UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Farm Smart program, which attracts thousands of visitors to the UC Desert Research and Extension Center in Imperial County each year, focuses on ag education and offers hands-on experience in irrigation and harvesting, reported Courtney Miller in the Desert Review.

Many of the visitors are from other parts of the country and Canada who winter in the Southern California desert to enjoy its sunshine and warm temperatures.

“Hopefully the word gets out and lots of people hear about it,” said Stacey Wills, Farm Smart manager. “What we're hoping to do is not only open it to winter visitors, but open it up locally as well. I don't know if the locals realize how rich our agriculture is here, especially young people. They don't understand the great agricultural opportunities and programs we have.”

Farm Smart, which began 15 years ago, relies on many volunteers to implement the winter visitor program and educational programs for K-12 students in the Imperial Valley. Two of the volunteers, Shriley and Larry Durarns, live on the center in their RV from October to March to help run the program, the article said.

“They basically work from sunrise to sunset,” said Wills. “They help us prep the food, drive the tractors, and ensure everything is being run smoothly. They are the life blood of the program. They make Farm Smart.”

The Imperial Valley Press also ran an article marking the beginning of the 2016 Farm Smart season. Writer William Roller reported that tours at the UC facility show visitors where their food comes from and reminds them they are linked with the environment and must be responsible stewards of the land.

"The great thing about the program is everyone learns about the research being done and gets to pick their own vegetables from our garden," Wills told the Imperial Valley Press.

The article featured a photo of Nancy Caywood Robertson driving the tractor that pulled visitors on a trailer as they toured the center. A former elementary school teacher, Caywood Robertson created Farm Smart in 2001 and managed the program until her retirement in 2014. She's now a volunteer.

Posted on Friday, January 22, 2016 at 9:29 AM

UC farm advisor recognized for contributions to ag

Joseph Connell
UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor Joseph Connell was honored this week for his career-long contributions to Butte County agriculture, according to the Chico Enterprise. He was one of four community leaders recognized as part of the annual Farm City Celebration.

The Farm City Committee acknowledged Connell's broad range of scientific, practical and professional competence and his fairness. Connell began his UCCE career in 1977 and moved to Butte County in 1980, where he has been responsible for almonds, walnuts, olives, citrus and ornamentals.

Gold Spotted Oak Borer infesting oak trees in So Cal
Angela Meyers, Big Bear News

Although the limited number of oaks in Big Bear mean the Gold Spotted Oak Borer doesn't pose a serious threat in the community, the local newspaper advised its readers that trees in nearby Yucaipa and Live Oak are in danger. The story suggested readers interested in more information visit UC ANR's Gold Spotted Oak Borer website.

Farm Smart starts corny lessons for local students
Elizabeth Varin, Imperial Valley Press

The UC Desert Research and Extension Center is kicking off its new season of Farm Smart, which educates students about natural and renewable resources, including agriculture. The program combines hands-on activities, such as visiting a corn maze and making corn starch plastic, with historical lessons, on such topics as the uses of bandanas and traditions behind hoedowns, said Nancy Caywood Robertson, education outreach coordinator for the Farm Smart program.

“Our No. 1 rule is they have to have fun,” she said. “Are you having fun?” she asked the crowd.

Posted on Wednesday, November 2, 2011 at 11:41 AM

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