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Louisiana Agriculture Magazine Spring 2023

Hundreds of thousands of Louisiana children attend schools each day, and Seeds to Success: The Louisiana Farm to School Program reaches many of them in a variety of ways. The program educates students about fruits, vegetables and other regional products, such as crawfish. It also helps link farmers with school districts in their areas so children can eat locally grown produce.

In this issue of Louisiana Agriculture, Carl Motsenbocker, the executive director of Seeds to Success, and Crystal Besse, the program director, explain how local food systems are seeing a resurgence. The Seeds to Success team details how the farm to school movement is assisting this growth. They also profile the people who work to make it possible — a teacher, farmers and an AgCenter Extension agent. In additional articles, researchers examine the economic benefits of farm to school programs as well as soil mixes for home gardeners and the media used by our consumer horticulture industry.

foodislife.png thumbnailFood Is Life

Carl Motsenbocker

The LSU AgCenter is directly supporting a more resilient local and regional food system throughout the state and improving access to locally sourced nutritious food.

backtobasics.png thumbnailBack to Basics: The Rebirth of Local Food Systems

Carl Motsenbocker and Crystal Besse

Consumers are increasingly interested in local foods as many consider the perceived benefits of freshness, higher quality and better flavor for locally grown fruits, vegetables and meat products.

cultivatingchange.png thumbnailCultivating Change: Louisiana Farm to School Program Connects Students to Full Plates and Healthy Habits

Crystal Besse and Celeste H. Finney

Farm to school activities not only enhance the learning environment but can also lead to improved eating habits for students throughout the state.

harvestmonth.png thumbnailLouisiana Harvest of the Month: Celebrating Fresh Flavors of Louisiana Farms

Celeste Finney and Crystal Besse

Louisiana Harvest of the Month, one aspect of Seeds to Success, provides food tastings and educational materials to schools across the state. Videos created with Louisiana Public Broadcasting are appropriate for children and adults.

seedsarmstrong.png thumbnailSeeds to Success Spotlight: Armstrong Farms

Tyne Bankester

Armstrong Farms is a third-generation farming operation in Bastrop led by 34-year-old Ashley and her 78-year-old father, Harper. They recently started providing produce to area schools.

theeconomic.png thumbnailThe Economic Benefit to Louisiana When Schools Purchase Local Foods

Whitney McKinzie, Maria Bampasidou, Crystal Besse and Celeste Finney

There is no dispute that purchasing local items and using local vendors can keep money in the regional economy. Former Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness graduate student Whitney McKinzie measured Louisiana school districts’ economic impact from purchasing local foods.

seedspotlight.png thumbnailSeeds to Success Spotlight: Leadership Workshops

Jacey Wesley

Seeds to Success hosts a School Garden Leadership Workshop that features hands-on learning and lectures to help educators learn to build and sustain a school garden while incorporating farm to school programming into their curriculum.

expandingproducer.png thumbnailExpanding Producer Markets: A Relationship for Success

Crystal Besse, Carl Motsenbocker and Pamela Hodson

A tool used to connect buyers with producers, Louisiana MarketMaker is directly managed by Seeds to Success, and the farm to school program promotes its use as the primary means for schools to locate local farms and producers.

Seedsto successrandazzo.png thumbnailSeeds to Success Extension Spotlight: Jessica Randazzo

Crystal Besse

Jessica Randazzo serves as the area nutrition agent for St. Mary Parish and is leading a successful example of farm to school work in action using garden-based nutrition education.

seedspotlight.png thumbnailSeeds to Success: Showcasing Model Programs, Diverse Speakers at Annual Conference

Jacey Wesley, Tyne Bankester and Pamela Hodson

The Seeds to Success team coordinates the annual Louisiana Farm to School Conference and provides a venue to exchange successes, farm to school information and networking opportunities each year.

schoolgardening.png thumbnailSchool Gardening With Purpose: Supporting Educators With Seeding LA

Tyne Bankester and Jacey Wesley

The Seeds to Success team launched the Seeding LA project in 2019 to answer questions and support educators’ farm to school programming.

encouragingschool.png thumbnailEncouraging Schoolchildren to Explore Nutritious Foods: A Q&A With Judy Myhand

Kyle Peveto

A nutrition instructor in the LSU College of Agriculture School of Nutrition and Food Sciences and a part of the Seeds to Success team, Myhand has worked with children, teens and college students for decades.

seedstosuccess.png thumbnailSeeds to Success Teacher Spotlight: Melissa Starks

Tyne Bankester

Melissa Starks, a Winnfield Primary School teacher, created a successful school garden with her students to help instill in them an appreciation of local food.

stratifiedsubstrates.png thumbnailStratified Substrates: A Synergistic Substrate System to Improve Resource-Efficient Crop Production

Jeb S. Fields and Kristopher Criscione

The practice of growing crops and plants in containers has become popular, partially because of the amount of control given to growers. A relatively novel technique for this is being developed within the Fields Lab. It involves stacking or layering unique substrate materials within a single container system.

containergrown.png thumbnailContainer Grown Vegetables for Home Gardeners

Heather Kirk-Ballard, Kathryn Fontenot and Edward Bush

Three container mixes were evaluated for their use in the production of cucumbers, tomatoes and sweet potatoes. Those mixes were Old Castle topsoil, which served as the control, PRO-MIX as the industry standard and a potting soil developed by LSU known as Garden Greaux.

farmtoschool.png thumbnailFarm to School Program Utilizes Crystal Besse’s Expertise in Public Health, Extension

Kyle Peveto

Crystal Besse works to connect Louisiana schools to local foods and the people who grow them. Seeds to Success works to educate students and school staff about nutrition, agriculture and local foods.

agcenter.png thumbnailLSU College of Agriculture News Spring 2023

coa.png thumbnailLSU AgCenter News Spring 2023

Innovate . Educate . Improve Lives

The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture