Farm to School program encourages Roanoke students to learn about fresh produce grown locally

Students learn to eat healthier through hands-on activities with farms in the area

The students got the opportunity to learn more about the foods they eat and where they come from.

ROANOKE, Va. – Roanoke City Public School students are learning more about the food they eat and where it comes from.

Farm to School looks to enrich the connection communities have with fresh, healthy food and local food producers by changing food purchasing and education practices at schools and early care and education settings.

Director of Food and Nutrition for Roanoke City Public Schools, Ellen Craddock, believes the program gives students a more interactive curriculum to learn about nutrition and how fresh produce is grown.

“I think it’s important that the students have this real-life experience because it’s something that we all have every day…is what we eat and how what we eat makes us feel better and has an impact on our long-term health benefits,” Craddock said.

Students from Fishburn Elementary School got their chance to experience a garden planted right outside their building on Tuesday morning.

Hayden Henshaw got to learn even more about a skill he already enjoyed doing.

“I love gardening just in general. But today was probably one of the best days ever because I got to learn about how stuff was made, how to grow stuff,” Henshaw said.

Different stations set up throughout the garden focused on different parts of food cycles and farming. The most popular, of course, were the live chicks and goats for the students to pet and pick up.

Tom Fitzpatrick, supervisor of science for Roanoke City Public Schools, said the Farm to School program goes beyond just the typical curriculum taught in everyday education.

“We have a great focus on literacy and getting kids where they need to be. But another piece of what we have to do as a school system is build the things that can increase the enjoyment of their lives,” Fitzpatrick said.

The program has already seen success in the students wanting to eat healthier at their school cafeterias.

“We have seen our students continuing to ask for more fruits and vegetables. They’ll come back to us and say, ‘Can I have another serving of strawberries, can I have another serving of lettuce?’” Craddock said.

Craddock and Fitzpatrick hope to continue growing the Food to School program throughout the district. Their harvest of the month crop for June is cucumbers and it will switch over to zucchini come July.

You can find more information on the program at the district’s Farm to School website.

About the Author:

Connor Dietrich joined the 10 News team in June 2022. Originally from Castle Rock, Colorado, he's ready to step away from the Rockies and step into the Blue Ridge scenery.