Exploratory Study of Participants Farm to Table: A Pathway to Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

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Virginia Tech

The lack of fresh local food production impacts our diet and health. The obesity epidemic indicates that our national food system may not adequately address human health needs. Empowering youth with the knowledge of home food production and consumption is one step to enable them to develop good decision making skills that could help improve health outcomes overtime. This project report illustrates the creation and implementation of a Farm to Table 4-H youth development program. The overall goal of this program was to introduce youth participants to the way food can be produced and consumed from farm to table using local resources and services. By doing so youth learn how the Virginia agriculture system works and how they can produce and consume fresh, nutritious food safely. The activities within this program have been developed specifically to allow youth hands-on learning experiences while supporting in-class work. Teachers participating in this program have been empowered to change their approach to classroom lessons and instill positive change in youth. The Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) Master Gardeners are adult volunteers specializing in all aspects of horticulture and they volunteer their time to serve the local community, offering communication, education and fellowship. The Master Gardeners can be valuable program partners in the Farm to Table Program. The Farm to Table program, a program designed to emphasize the importance of growing and eating fresh, local foods is designed to be replicated in any school division from rural or urban areas. Given the opportunity, this program can become an integrated part of the spring school year.

local foods, 4-H youth development, farm-to-table programs, master gardeners, volunteers, education, outreach