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Ridgeway Farm to School


Ridgeway Community School (RCS) is a rural, public charter elementary school in Winona County serving 80 students in grades K-5. Our support of its farm-to-school efforts came in two phases from 2009 through 2011.

Phase 1 goals:

  1. Launch a farm to-school program at a rural K-5 school.
  2. Set an example for local sourcing by a community institution.
  3. Support local farmers, including some whose children attend RCS.
  4. Begin to change the food culture among school staff, students, and the community so that "grown sustainably here" is a desired characteristic in school and at home.
  5. Deepen the relationship with Winona County's UM Extension programs to the benefit of the school community.
  6. Field test and improve the University of Minnesota farm-to-school website.

Phase 2 goals:

  1. Launch a limited transportation network that serves RCS and other businesses in need of easily accessible locally grown food.
  2. Set an example of a localized transportation system that serves regional farmers, existing distributors, and institutional/other buyers in a practical, simple, flexible, accountable fashion.
  3. Engage farmers in understanding and controlling their own transportation costs with an aim at better decision-making for their farm businesses and the regional food system at large.
  4. Share the many lessons learned through this work with a small rural school to the benefit of other kids, schools, farmers, distributors, and acres in our region.
  5. Leverage one school's commitment to healthful food and healthy children with hands-on, how-to training while more deeply integrating the priorities of sustainable agriculture and sustained communities into the region. 


Ridgeway Community School - board, administration, food service staff, teachers, students
Land Stewardship Project – Caroline van Schaik


  1. Served an average of four pounds of locally-grown food per child per month in federally-mandated 1/4 and 1/2 cup servings.
  2. Developed "Grown Sustainably by Farmers We Know!" campaign that became a standard part of the monthly take-home menu.
  3. Created an "Our Farmers!" list that grew to include family gardeners and a bevy of students who established their own school garden.
  4. Field-tested and evaluated the University of Minnesota Farm-To-School online toolkit by applying some of its ready-to-use menu planning, recipe trials, food foraging tips, promotional materials and classroom activities.
  5. Helped to further develop toolkit offerings - stickers, standard sheets for listing local farmers for given ingredients, how to organize a sampling event, sample newsletter blurbs.
  6. Established relationships with area farmers for the purchase of select food items to be incorporated into menus and to be added to the website as willing partners in farm-to-school efforts.
  7. Established a working partnership with UM Extension to provide nutrition and other food-related education through the Junior Master Gardener Program, including an attempt to integrate toolkit activities into this and related Extension programs.
  8. Trained RCS cook and volunteers to forage for local products while serving as assistant forager until the transportation system is put into place.
  9. Worked with farmers to design efficient ways for them to work directly with RCS through such mechanisms as electronic fresh lists, weekly phone calls, workshops on calculating transportation costs, and delivery via Winona-based distributor
  10. Developed mutually-beneficial relationship with Winona-based distributor whereby farmers tap into distributor's established routes at RCS twice a week; experimentation with other schools and farmer drop sites continues.
  11. Facilitated the establishment of business protocols for existing distributors, RCS, other buyers, and area farmers, including ordering and invoice mechanisms, fees, schedules, and handling.
  12. Nurtured a food culture at the school that now includes volunteer veggie choppers, donated veggies from home gardens, a flexibility to accommodate such generosity and the season, and an expectation that everyone (including staff!) will and wants to try new food.



Leveraged resources

Ridgeway Community School - board, administration, food service staff, teachers, students
UM Extension - Family Development and Junior Master Gardeners

Last updated 12-31-2011
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