Farm to School Project to be focus of April 8 open house at WCU

Western Carolina University will co-host an open house Thursday, April 8, to introduce a new Farm to School Project to the university community and local residents.

The public is invited to attend the event, which will be held from 3 to 6 p.m. in WCU’s Moore Building.

Partners in implementing the Farm to School Project in Jackson County are WCU, the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project and the Jackson County Public School System. The three partners plan to integrate Farm to School instruction into WCU’s pre-service training for students majoring in elementary and middle grades education, and nutrition and dietetics. Students will learn about the connection between health and local agriculture through the implementation of farm- and garden-based instruction.

Also, 10 WCU students will be chosen to implement Farm to School programming in the Jackson County public schools next fall. The students will be given resources such as gift cards, cooking supplies, seeds, children’s literature and technical assistance to implement farm field trips, school gardens, cooking classes, and meet-the-farmer and taste-test events, said Emily Jackson, ASAP program director.

The national Farm to School Network works to promote regional community-based food systems and connect children to their agricultural heritage. Among the network’s objectives are improving student nutrition and supporting local farmers, Jackson said.

The Farm to School Project in Jackson County is being funded by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation.

For more information about the open house at WCU, contact Patricia Bricker, assistant professor in WCU’s department of elementary and middle grades education, at 828-227-3352 or bricker@wcu.edu.