About The Documentary
Farm to School partnerships have flourished across Minnesota as communities have risen to the challenge of addressing the health, education and economic impacts of the childhood obesity epidemic. More schools are incorporating fresh, local food into their lunch menus as farmers work to meet this growing demand.
Farm to School: Growing our Future explores the advantages and remaining challenges for businesses, farms, schools and communities as they work together to improve our children’s health and education. This 30-minute program features a diverse cast of characters and inspiring stories. Central to the storyline is a commitment to connect nearby farms and schools with Minnesota-made innovations, such as a public database of local foods available for purchase by schools, hospitals and other large institutions as well as hands-on training and updated resources for school staff. Yet, the magnitude of the obesity crisis and the complexity of our food system require additional initiatives such as:
- Renovated school kitchens
- Expanded training opportunities
- A new look at the foods available through the USDA commodity program
- New approaches to economic development that include regional food hubs
- Public-private partnerships like the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP)
- Educational opportunities for young people to learn about food and our food system
Farm to School: Growing our Future aims to spark a dialogue among policy makers at the local, state and national levels. It comes at an important time in U.S. history as the nation faces the devastation of childhood obesity and rising health care costs. Join us on this journey as we reverse these troubling trends and work to bring our nation back to health.
David Abazs, Round River Farm
David operates a productive and sustainable farm and helps educate the public about basic food literacy and regional food systems through his non-profit organization, Shalom Seed Sanctuary. Round River Farm is solar and wind powered and uses an intensive cropping system that includes green manures, crop rotations and companion planting. His research with the U of MN, Duluth shows how land in NE Minnesota and NW Wisconsin could easily support a regional food system.
Mary Jo Forbord, Prairie Horizons Farm
Mary Jo and her husband, Luverne, raise a special breed of grass-loving beef cattle on certified organic pastures and native prairie. Formerly conventional dairy farmers, they transitioned to organic cattle farming in 2002. Mary Jo is a registered dietitian and the coordinator of the Healthy Eating initiative at U of MN, Morris, which works to increase consumption of healthy foods through community gardens, farmers markets, and in schools and workplaces.
Linda Grover, Director, Winona County Economic Development Authority
The Winona County Economic Development Authority’s goal is to build a strong, diversified and sustainable economy and has one subcommittee dedicated to promoting local foods. Its work includes increasing consumption of local foods by marketing locally grown food varieties, distributing a directory of area farmers, and connecting farmers directly with potential institutional buyers such as schools, hospitals and restaurants.
Professor Robert King, PhD, U of Minnesota Department of Applied Economics
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Robert joined the faculty in 1983 and his current research focuses on local food systems, organic agriculture and management issues facing food retailers, farmer cooperatives and farmers. He teaches courses on managerial economics and cooperatives and helps advise the University’s Student Organic Farm. He is active internationally, having lectured in Brazil, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland and his work has been published in American and European journals on agribusiness and economics.
Linda Kingery, Executive Director, Northwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships
Linda has led the Northwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships (NWRSDP) since 2000, where she helps the University of Minnesota further research, education and outreach consistent with sustainable development principals. The NWRSDP serves people in northwest Minnesota as they experiment with innovative ideas and connects University resources with citizen leaders in support of regional aspirations for natural resources, clean energy, agriculture and food systems and resilient communities.
Bruce Klaehn, Superintendent, Dover-Eyota Public Schools
Bruce is serving his seventh year as the Superintendent of the Dover-Eyota School District in southeast Minnesota, which in 2011, celebrated its third year as a Farm to School partner. He has worked for more than 38 years in education as an elementary teacher and principal, high school coach and superintendent for another district in southeast Minnesota. Bruce was born and raised on a farm in the Dexter area, about 25 miles southwest of Rochester.
Barb Mechura, Nutrition Services Director, Hopkins Public Schools
Barb is passionate about nutrition and wellness, and teaching students the personal benefits of leading fun, healthy lifestyles. Hopkins’ Nutrition Services serves students whole foods, locally grown produce and helps teachers incorporate wellness into curriculum. Before joining Hopkins in 2007, Barb spent 20 years directing student meal programs in Faribault, Edina, Stewartville and Owatonna. She is active in school nutrition associations at the state and national levels.
John Peterson, Ferndale Market
Cannon Falls, Minnesota
John Peterson is a third generation turkey farmer, carrying on a legacy started by his grandparents more than 70 years ago. Turkeys at Ferndale Market are raised free range during the summer months and processed naturally, without additives. John and his family have a simple recipe for success: work hard, treat customers as family and care deeply for both the land and the turkeys.
Duane Pfleiger, Vice President, Bix Produce Company
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Founded in 1930 as a one-truck operation, Bix Produce Company supplies regional, bulk, specialty and pre-cut produce to customers in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and North Dakota. Bix has taken a lead in the movement to supply fresh, local produce to schools and higher education settings and is an active member of Food Alliance Midwest, which provides third-party certification for environmentally and socially responsible operations.
Professor Mary Story, PhD, RD, University of Minnesota School of Public Health
Mary is the Program Director for the Robert Wood Johnson Healthy Eating Research Program, which supports research on environmental and policy strategies to promote healthy eating among children and prevent obesity. She has received numerous awards for her research and work in the field of childhood and adolescent nutrition and has more than 400 scientific publications. She serves as Professor and Senior Associate Dean of Academic and Student Affairs in the School of Public Health.
University of Minnesota Extension is a 100-year-old partnership between the university and federal, state and county governments to provide scientific knowledge and expertise to the public. Through Extension, the University of Minnesota "extends" its resources to address critical public issues in priority areas, including food and agriculture, communities, environment, youth and families.
Extension supports farm to school — working to increase the use of healthy, local foods in schools — because improving the health of children and family farms is vital to Minnesota communities. For more information, visit www.extension.umn.edu.
Minnesota Department of Health protects, maintains and improves the health of all Minnesotans by assuring strong systems for health, preventing and controlling infectious and chronic diseases, increasing access to health care services, responding to disasters and emergencies, and making physical environments safe and healthy.
MDH works to increase Minnesotans’ access to fresh, local and nutritious foods through public-private partnerships like farm to school and the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP). For more information, visit www.health.state.mn.us.
The mission of Twin Cities Public Television, tpt, is to “enrich lives and strengthen our community through the power of media.” Based in St. Paul, Minnesota for more than 50 years, tpt is one of the highest-rated PBS affiliates, reaching more than 1.3 million people each month through multiple broadcast and online channels.
The tpt Minnesota Channel (MN Channel) features programming that is from or about Minnesota and its close neighbors. Many programs, like Farm to School: Growing our Future, are produced in partnership with nonprofit and public service organizations. For more information, visit www.tpt.org
The documentary was co-produced with our partners, Twin Cities Public Television and Minnesota Department of Health with support from three consultants who worked on design, marketing, public relations, and development of the discussion resources and guide. Our impact by the numbers:
- Our promotion and outreach strategy resulted in 33 documentary screenings and discussions led by the project team, Health & Nutrition Extension Educators, and community partners. These events engaged more than 1200 people.
- After participating in the documentary screening and discussion, 88% of participants said they were “likely to take some action to help grow Farm to School in our area” and 82% said they were “interested in showing this documentary to other groups and leading discussions.”
- Since it first premiered on tpt’s MN Channel on March 25, 2012, the documentary has aired 27 times on tpt’s MN or LIFE channel. The documentary aired three times on the tpt LIFE channel and reached an estimated 29,000 viewers.
- This documentary's website had 4466 unique page views in 2012.
- Our project team developed 18 resources to host a screening and lead a discussion, a media advisory toolkit, steps to take action, and other resources to support Farm to School.
- Producer — Jeffrey Weihe, Twin Cities Public Television
- Executive in Charge — Tom Trow, Twin Cities Public Television
- Coordinating Producers
- Stephanie Heim, University of Minnesota Extension
- Lisa Gemlo, Minnesota Department of Health
- Sarah Carroll, Minnesota Department of Health
- Graphic Design and Marketing — Tonja Larson, LadyWithaFan Design
- Public Relations and Marketing — Andrea Cournoyer, Plain Depth Consulting
- Discussion Resources and Guide — Donna Rae Scheffert, Leadership Tools