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Regional Farm to Cafeteria workshop planned to strengthen relationships between growers and instutional buyers

Apples, cucumbers and tomatoes are the top three most popular Minnesota fruits and vegetables among K-12 students, according to an Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy survey of school food service leaders. Getting these locally grown foods on the menus of schools and other institutions such as hospitals and childcare centers requires cross-sector partnerships, community support and relationship building. The Central region is one of eight Farm to Cafeteria workshops taking place

across the state between February and April. The Central region’s Farm to Cafeteria workshop will be held on Wednesday, April 3, at the Staples Central Lakes College from 2-7 p.m., with registration and vendors beginning at 1 p.m.

The workshops are designed to meet the needs of the region and strengthen connections to advance partnerships between local farmers and community institutions. Farm to Cafeteria builds strong communities, healthy people, and resilient local farms, creating a “win-win” for all parties. This year’s gatherings build on an earlier round of Farm to Cafeteria workshops. In 2010, more than 600 Minnesotans attended eight regional workshops that were aimed to inspire, inform, and build support for local food to local institutions.

The Central region workshop will feature a panel discussion highlighting the vibrant regional work within the local Farm to Cafeteria arenas. There will be five informative breakout sessions on the topics of: “Getting Farm to Cafeteria Started on your Farm,” “Moving your Farm to the Next Level,” “Season Extension,” “Getting Farm to Cafeteria Started in our your Cafeteria” and “Taking it to the Next Level.” There will also be farmer/buyer networking facilitated by Brett Olson of Renewing the Countryside, a locally-sourced meal featuring Farm to School recipes from the Brainerd School District catered by Lakewood Health System, and a variety of vendors and resources sharing valuable information!

“When schools buy food from nearby producers, their purchasing power helps create local jobs and economic benefits, particularly in rural agricultural communities,” said USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan. “Evidence also suggests that when kids understand more about where food comes from and how it’s produced, they are more likely to make healthy eating choices.”

The 2013 workshops are coordinated by University of Minnesota Extension in partnership with the Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, Renewing the Countryside, and funded by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. The Central region workshop is co-sponsored by the Staples Central Lakes College Ag Center.

For more information and to register, visit

Contact Amanda Whittemore at or 320-203-6053 for more information on the Central region event.

For information on Minnesota Farm to School, visit

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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