Farm to School Institutes to pilot in Oregon and Washington
Release Date: 11-29-2023

A new project brings comprehensive farm to school and farm to early childhood programming to the Pacific Northwest

Portland, OR — November 29, 2023 — Ecotrust and a group of regional partners are excited to launch the Oregon and Washington Farm to School Institutes Project to grow comprehensive farm to school and farm to early childhood programming in both states. With support from the USDA Patrick Leahy Farm to School Grant, funding will enable collaboration, planning, and project implementation across the two states for the 2024-2025 school year, the first of its kind in the Pacific Northwest region.

Farm to school programming enriches the connection that communities have with fresh, culturally relevant foods and local food producers by supporting gardening, agricultural education, and local food purchasing at schools and early childhood education sites. While the farm to school movement has been growing across Oregon and Washington for over a decade, more support has been needed to integrate and sustain programming across local food purchasing, agricultural education, and school gardens. 

The Farm to School Institute model is a year-long professional learning experience that brings site-based teams together to build relationships, skills, and a collaborative action plan to further their farm to school/early childhood education goals. Team members bring a variety of expertise and may include classroom educators, an administrator, nutrition services staff, and community partners. With the support of a coach, teams spend the school year putting their plans into action and strengthening their capacity to integrate lasting impacts across classrooms, cafeterias, and communities. 

Although new to the Pacific Northwest, the Oregon and Washington Institutes Project is adapted from the Farm to School Institute model, continuously developed and evaluated by Shelburne Farms and Vermont FEED since 2010. Shelburne Farms has been a vital partner to Oregon and Washington, providing support through training, technical assistance, networking, planning tools, and guides. In 2022, a group from Oregon and Washington visited Vermont as part of the Farm to School Institute Adapters Program, where they met with other states adapting the program and saw some key components of the model in action.  

“Oregon and Washington’s multistate effort will bring many schools and early childhood programs together to provide support and connection in a field that can sometimes feel isolating,” says Betsy Rosenbluth, Farm to School Director at Shelburne Farms, “The year-long Institute offers peer-to-peer learning opportunities while developing integrated programs that reach more children.”

A unique aspect of the Oregon and Washington adaptation of the Institute is the distinction between planning and professional learning for early childhood education and K-12 school programming. 

“Farm to early childhood professional learning is often adapted from or included in farm to school programs with schools or districts that focus on elementary, middle, and high school aged students,” says Angela Hedstrom, Ecotrust Community Food Systems Program Manager. “There are significant differences between K-12 and early childhood education programs, including the federal child nutrition programs they may participate in, so our Institute model will create separate tracks for farm to early childhood and K-12 farm to school. By planning for farm to early childhood separately and early on, we will be able to address, honor, and uplift the unique needs and opportunities of early childhood education environments.”

Partners involved in the Oregon and Washington Farm to School Institutes project include 

  • Adelante Mujeres
  • Child Care Aware Northwest/Opportunity Council
  • City of Seattle Department of Education and Early Learning
  • Ecotrust
  • FoodCorps
  • NorthEast Washington Educational Service District 101
  • Oregon Farm to School and School Garden Network
  • Shelburne Farms Institute for Sustainable Schools
  • Tigard-Tualatin School District Nutrition Services
  • Washington State Department of Agriculture
  • Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • Washington Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education (SNAP-Ed)


About Ecotrust

Ecotrust creates and accelerates triple-bottom-line innovations to benefit our region and inspire the world. Our work is rooted in the region from California to Alaska that holds productive lands and determined people. On the farm, at the coast, in the forest, and across our cities, we work in partnership towards an equitable, prosperous, climate-smart future. We recognize the legacy of colonialism and the deep inequities of this place, and we believe that radical, practical change is possible and necessary. Since 1991, we have created durable change and sparked ideas across the globe. Join us at