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CT Farm to School Institute
FAQ 

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  • What is the CT Farm to School Institute?
    The CT FTS Institute is a comprehensive year-long professional learning opportunity for Connecticut school teams to develop and refine their farm to school programs. At the retreat, you can expect to build relationships, skills, and a collaborative action plan for your school which you will take with you into the upcoming school year. With the support of a coach, teams spend the school year putting their plans into action and strengthening their capacity to impact classrooms, cafeterias and communities, with change that lasts. The Institute is a direct opportunity to improve the health of students and strengthen the agricultural economy by bringing farm fresh local foods into school cafeterias statewide!
  • I'm interested in learning more about this. Can I be involved with the Institute even if I'm not on a participating school team?
    Yes! As we get closer to our summer retreat in June 2024, we may be seeking trainers, speakers and coaches. Interested? Fantastic! Email us: ctftsinstitute@gmail.com
  • Who is eligible to apply?
    Any PK-12 school (or district) in Connecticut that received a Connecticut Grown for Connecticut Kids Week Grant (at any point in time!) can apply to the Institute. Unfortunately, we cannot accommodate Early Childhood Education (ECE) teams this year but hope that this program will expand in the future to include this important pool of school teams we hope to support! If you are unsure if you're eligible, please email ctftsinstitute@gmail.com.
  • What is included in the Institute program?
    Teams selected for the FTS Institute are given support for an entire year. At the summer retreat teams are joined by an experienced coach that supports the team to develop an action plan inspired by workshops and the work of other schools. During the school year, team members implement and adapt their plans with the support of their coach.
  • What is the summer retreat?
    The summer retreat will be two days at Yellow Farmhouse Education Center at Stone Acres Farm (followed by a year of coaching, networking, and action). During the summer retreat, teams get inspired by and learn from leaders in farm to school, build relationships across the team, gain new skills, and develop a year-long action plan for FTS programming. The CT Farm to School Institute planning team and a network of FTS partners provide support via team time, workshops, and learning journeys during the retreat. During the year, as the team implements their action plan, they work with their coach to assess and adapt to successes and challenges. Learn more about the summer retreat, by taking a peak at last year's recap, here!
  • What does action planning, coaching, and networking look like for the Institute?
    With the support of a coach, teams spend the school year putting their plans into action and strengthening their capacity to impact classrooms, cafeterias, and communities with change that lasts. In the spring, teams regather with their peers virtually to share successes, how they adapted to challenges, and begin planning for future years of FTS programming.
  • Who are the coaches and what is their role?
    Every team participating in the Institute has a designated, experienced Farm to School coach that will be matched with them based on their geography and/or specific needs their team may have in building up their program. Coaches are supported by the Connecticut Farm to School Institute planning committee, in order to provide the best support possible to their teams during the summer retreat and throughout the year. Coaches facilitate the development of the action plan and make connections to any technical assistance a team could use as they implement their plans. Coaches keep teams informed of learning opportunities and professional development that can strengthen their practice. They can help infuse creativity into the planning and implementation process by offering insights, suggestions, and feedback regularly. Most of all, coaches guide their team, rather than do things for them—they listen, reflect, evaluate, rethink and support the implementation of the action plan.
  • What does the school year look like after the in-person retreat?
    This is a year-long program kicking off with a pre-retreat call in spring 2024, and in-person summer retreat June 25th & 26th. Teams will implement their action plans during the 2024-2025 school year with the support of a coach who will meet regularly with teams until May/June 2025.
  • What is the commitment?
    Spring 2024: Attend a one hour virtual orientation given by the Institute planning team for participants to be familiarized with the 3C’s framework, and review the agenda for the retreat. We strongly encourage live attendance, but it will be recorded for all to watch prior to the retreat. Additionally, you & your school team must meet your coach on a date set by you and your team prior to the summer retreat. This meeting is for coach introductions, and time to complete your personalized FTS Rubric and draft your values statement, so we can hit the ground running at the summer retreat. Summer 2024: Attend our summer kickoff retreat, June 25th & 26th, 2024 at Yellow Farmhouse Education Center (in Stonington CT), to dive into farm to school action planning, network with peers around the state, and explore farm to school possibilities. Fall–Winter 2024–25: Teams will meet regularly throughout the school year with your coach as you implement your action plan. Participants will support program growth and improvement through data collection, evaluation, and storytelling. Halfway through the school year we may reconvene for a virtual mid year gathering. Spring 2025: Prepare a year two Action Plan with the support of your coach, and regroup with your cohort to share your progress and reflections in a year-end gathering, May 2025.
  • Who should be on a team, and how do we select people to serve on our team?
    Farm to school efforts are most successful and long-lasting when teams take the time to build commitment and capacity of a diverse set of stakeholders. These stakeholders should include nutrition/food service staff, teachers, administrators, family members, students (middle and high school), nurses, farmers, and community partners. We encourage and seek diverse teams that contain members of different racial and gender identity, experience levels, and program roles. Teams for the Institute’s summer retreat are typically 5-7 members, but a full team or FTS committee can be larger during the school year. Consider inviting people who are already FTS champions as well as key decision-makers and implementers who have yet to become involved but could provide valuable insights or connections when it comes time to implement your action plan. Your school may already have a group that has been working on FTS or wellness, or there might be a committee that has worked on these efforts in the past but possibly needs a “refresh” with some new planning and new team members.
  • Can you share more details about the 2024-25 Summer Retreat?
    When: Summer retreat June 25 & 26, 2024. Where: The retreat takes place at Yellow Farmhouse Education Center, housed at Stone Acres Farm, a working farm in Stonington, CT. Yellow Farmhouse envisions a healthy, robust, and thriving local food system accessible and affordable to all. What: Two days of professional learning, networking, planning and fun! For our 2024 Summer Retreat, lodging MAY be included, the team is currently working on securing funding.
  • What do teams do after the summer retreat?
    Share! Once a final draft of the action plan is ready, teams share their plan with members of their school or program’s administration and any other stakeholders. Do! Institute schools are expected to commit to implementing their Farm to School Action Plan and establishing systems to track progress throughout the year. Meet! Teams will establish regular meetings that include their coach (monthly is recommended), with the focus on assessing progress, communicating and celebrating successes, and changing course as needed. Celebrate and Continue! 🤗 At the end of the Institute, all teams will celebrate their successes and share ongoing challenges through a webinar with other teams. Teams will also have a final opportunity to work with their coach to create an updated action plan and rubric for the following year.
  • Is there a cost to participate in the Institute?
    Upon acceptance of your application, each team will be required to submit a deposit to secure your enrollment. Upon completion of the summer retreat, the deposit will be returned to the team. Any travel and incidental expenses are the responsibility of the participants. With generous funding from The Kendall Foundation, CT Dept. Agriculture and VT FEED, this is made possible! Many thanks to the CT Farm to School Collaborative, New Britain ROOTS, FoodCorps, Yellow Farmhouse Education Center, and Put Local on Your Tray for your ongoing assistance to make this a success.
  • What is the 3Cs model?
    We define Farm to School as a comprehensive strategy that connects learning and experiences in the Classroom, Cafeteria, and the Community (the 3 Cs). The goal is to help learners establish a lifelong positive relationship with food while supporting a more just food system. The strategies used to achieve this shift are: serving healthy local food, improving nutrition, providing hands-on food systems based learning opportunities, and developing meaningful relationships between community partners, educational settings and youth. Farm to school supports youth in connecting the dots of where their food comes from and how their food choices impact their bodies, the environment, and their communities at large. Familiarize yourself with the model, by checking out the following resources created and distributed by VT FEED: Cafeteria Classroom Community Action Planning Guide Staying Power Full appendix All the above resources plus many more can be found on VTFEED's FTS Planning Toolkit webpage, found here.
  • What is the CT Farm to School Rubric?
    The rubric is designed to help Farm to School (FTS) teams get a systems-wide view of their farm to school program. This will inform action planning and identify what next steps might be taken to deepen the program and give it greater staying power. It can also be used to identify readiness for farm to school grants and needs for technical assistance. A collaborative, multi-stakeholder review will lead to the most accurate picture of current practices, and can encourage more strategic action planning. An editable version of this document will be provided to participants.
  • Who are the organizers of the Institute and how can we contact them with questions?
    The CT Farm to School Institute is organized by the CT Farm to School Collaborative, New Britain ROOTS, FoodCorps, Yellow Farmhouse Education Center, and Put Local on Your Tray with funding from The Kendall Foundation, CT Department of Agriculture, and VT FEED. The Connecticut Farm to School Institute Planning Committee is a group of committed farm to school practitioners who convened around this idea in 2019, during the Connecticut Farm to School Action Planning process. The Institute is modeled after the Northeast Farm to School Institute, based in Shelburne VT. For any questions concerning the Institute please email: ctftsinstitute@gmail.com
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