Richmond’s Urban Agriculture Institutes: A First Stage Impact Study

I wanted to post an impact study that I performed this year of the Urban Agriculture Institutes that I used to run in Richmond, Calif.  This paper represents the first step in a program evaluation of Urban Tilth’s Urban Agriculture Institutes.  While this study had an intervention/control cross sectional design, with no baseline data it cannot make any causal claims.  The data for the full program evaluation does have a pre/post element and is being currently analyzed.

The program that Urban Tilth is now running is a mature, well conceived model that I believe has replicable qualities for schools throughout the country.  The idea is fairly simple.  An urban agriculture program at the high school level, that gives high school graduation credit, provides food system education, cooking and tasting demonstrations, community and service learning all under the larger focus of intensive urban food production.  Students manage their own school garden or farm, and create a working Community Supported Agriculture  (CSA) business model to provide produce to the community.  During the summer when school is out (and school gardens become abandoned) Urban Tilth hires the trained Urban Aggers to continue their training, and manage many school and urban gardens throughout the summer.  Students return next year as leaders in the continuing work of producing food for the community.

I hope you enjoy reading it and I’m getting excited about putting together the final program evaluation to show a national audience what Urban Tilth is doing…

Students Growing Food:  A Study of a Food-Production Focused Intervention in a California High School

Baltimore School District Food Survey Reveals Parents agree with the District’s initiative to provide Healthier Options for Their Kids

fruits and vegetablesAs the Baltimore City Public Schools system continues the transformation of its food service for more than 80,000 kids (see food revolution), a new survey reveals that students and parents are hungry for more. Melissa Mahoney, the districts “top chef”, nutritionist and dietitian , sent out the survey to measure opinions about the ongoing changes and what they’d like to see in the future. Some of the biggest changes include the introduction of Meatless Monday menu options, fresh local fruits, and the creation of the Great Kids Farm as an education center focused on food and agriculture.

The survey link was presented to parents and students on the March, April and May school menus that are sent home in addition to being permanently placed on the “What you need to know” section of the district website.  Parents and students were encouraged complete a web-based survey reflecting their opinions about current menu items and preferences not only for future specific menu items, but attitudes about how the district should be focusing its initiatives. Read More >