about the program
The well established Know Your Farmer Program, created by the Community Alliance of Family Farmers (CAFF), has been providing high quality educational field trips for many years in Humboldt County. The North Coast Growers’ Association is honored to have taken on the Know Your Farmer Program from CAFF in 2017 at their request.
NCGA recognizes that students in Humboldt County schools with predominantly low income students receive the least amount of opportunities for education on food and nutrition, food security and sustainable agriculture. Our 2018 program will concentrate on schools with predominantly low-income students, and schools that have not yet participated in the Know Your Farmer program.
Know Your Farmer in-class lessons and on-farm field trips promote a healthy lifestyle by promoting real, whole foods. Positive food experiences that start early will last a lifetime. Our work is geared towards K-4th grade students, helping to shape their eating habits and preferences for healthy options at a young age.
There are many important health correlations between early childhood nutrition education and a reduction in obesity. Increasing rates of childhood obesity and diabetes are widespread across the nation, and California is no exception. According to the California Department of Education, 32% of youth are overweight, 74% are unfit, and 51% eat a maximum of one fruit or vegetable serving each day. California Food Policy Advocates claims that 34% of our 7th graders and 58% of adults are overweight in Humboldt County. California’s Task Force on Childhood Obesity recommends increasing the quantity and quality of health education while ensuring the availability of healthy food in schools. NCGA incorporates both of approaches into the Know Your Farmer Program.
The Know Your Farmer Education Program offers hands-on nutrition education in the classroom and on working farms, and teaches students the benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption and about local agriculture.
We focus our comprehensive approach on low-income schools where the majority of students participate in the National School Lunch Program and receive free or reduced price school meals, indicating that these children’s families are at or below 185% of the poverty line. In Humboldt County, 52% percent of schoolchildren are eligible for free or reduced price lunches. By enhancing nutrition education and access to healthy food, we are positively impacting the health of one of our community’s most vulnerable populations. At the same time, we help strengthen our economy by developing market opportunities by increasing the exposure of the region’s small family farms.
Through age-appropriate, educational, and fun activities that connect students to the source of all food—agriculture— Know Your Farmer inspires children to eat healthy and unprocessed fresh foods. Students learn about sustainable food production in their own community and develop relationships with farmers; this encourages them to make good choices about a range of subjects – from the types of farm they support, to the level of processed foods they eat, to the amount of waste they generate.
The Know Your Farmer Program includes:
Farmer or Farmer’s Market Staff’s Visit to the Classroom for a Local Food System Lesson: Impresses upon students the importance of farming as a career, and allows them to ask questions about what it takes to be a farmer. Encourages students to think critically about where their food comes from including the bigger picture of how their food gets from seed to table.
Field Trip to a Local Farm: Allows students to observe firsthand how produce is grown, and make a more personal connection to healthy food. Students rotate through four standards-based activities on plants, compost, insects, and nutrition, including a tasting of farm fresh produce.
Field Trip to a Local Farmers’ Market: provides for a full-circle experience of the connection between growing the food and getting that food to the community. Students are guided through activities that help them learn about the deep history of farmers’ markets across the world, and how farmers’ markets and grocery stores that sell local produce are a critical part of a healthy food system.
Know Your Farmer connects students with local farms, providing a strong foundation for understanding the food system, and a more personal relationship with healthy food. We are utilizing the proven strategy that children who learn about food and farming are more willing to try new foods and healthier options, and more likely to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables.