Meet Our 2014 K-8 Future Organic Farmer Grant Fund Recipients!

Since 2014, the Future Organic Farmer Grant Fund has partnered with the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom to administer the Look at Agriculture…Organically! grant program for K-8 teachers who teach their students about organic in the classroom. Each week, visit our blog to hear from the teachers who received Future Organic Farmer Grant Fund grants for their schools about the projects they funded.

Find out how to apply for your own Future Organic Farmer Grant.

Learn more about supporting the Future Organic Farmer Grant Fund through a donation.

Raelynn Antrim, Ocean Knoll Elementary, Encinitas, CA

Project: Community Seed Library
"As an extension of Ocean Knoll Farm’s organic educational opportunities and Global Seed Saving Program, sixth grade students from Ocean Knoll Elementary, an International Baccalaureate elementary school, will grow, harvest and save organic seeds of interesting, rare and near extinct edible varieties from around the world. They will simultaneously plan and build a community seed library which will offer these rare seeds to community members who share a passion for keeping diverse harvests alive. The goal of this project is to engage students in the importance of organic growing methods and saving seeds to protect a resilient and diverse range of healthful edible plants."

Linda Cassady, Paradise Intermediate School, Paradise, CA
Project: “Salad-bration"
"Sixth grade students will design and construct eight cinder block garden beds. Students will then propagate organic vegetables from organic certified seed in order to implement a school-wide celebration of harvest. Students will research and plan out fall, winter and spring gardens. We will focus on the benefits of organic versus traditional gardens as well as composting to support a healthy environment. Our school has greater than sixty-five percent of our students on the free or reduced lunch program with limited access to experiences like this."

Diana Chavez, Don Riggio Elementary, Stockton, CA
Project: San Joaquin Delta Project
"We would love to add to our existing project that we currently do at our school. We currently have a 6-week project where we focus on our Delta region and our community. We learn about various aspects including; animals, plants, community workers, water conservation, water safety and ways we can take care of the world around us. We would like to increase the amount of agriculture study to our unit by doing an extensive study of worms. Worms are a great resource to our environment. They lend themselves to encompass various academic opportunities such as; writing, science, and math. If possible we would love to have the students play a big role in the care of the worms and use the castings in a garden that we would add to our existing school garden. This project is an introduction to our unique Delta region. The students begin an understanding of the environment and how they can start to help keep the Delta alive and well. We have a field trip to the Calaveras River and to Dos Reis Park so Children can experience and visually see real living environments. Students rotate through centers with various community outreach presenters who are in direct contact in some way with our Delta. One particular center is presented by a master gardener (UC Davis Ag. and natural resources division) who brings samples of soil that contain living organisms that help the soil and plants that grow in it. Receiving this grant would allow us to invite some local organic farmers to our already extensive field trip to give a lesson on what organic agriculture is and the importance of living healthy."

Kevin Hesser, Toyon Middle School, San Andreas, CA
Project: Organic Pizza Garden
"We would like to plan, plant, grow, harvest and bake organic pizza's in our school garden to give away and sell at lunch and afterschool. We will promote the idea that healthy eating can be delicious and fun when you take something popular like pizza and make a healthy version of it! Students will be able to do all of the STEM activities associated with Math when it comes to planning the garden, planting then making pizza. They can bake the crust from scratch in our Home Ec room and gain skills that will last a lifetime. We will teach about organic gardening practices throughout the cycle of the project. Students can research and learn about the different regulations and standards and do presentations for eachother. We can learn about what organic products are available in our local store and encourage families to buy organic. All of the gardening that we currently do is all organic."

Rebecca Newburn, Hall Middle School, Larkspur, CA
Project: Carbon-Rich Soils for Healthy Plants & a Healthy Planet
"The Hall Food Forest is a permaculture-inspired garden integrated into Hall Middle School’s 6th grade Earth Science curriculum. The garden themes are geographical regions of the world that the students study in their social studies class. Each of 160 students chooses a region they want to steward; through that lens they learn about the climate and plants indigenous to that region. Each region learns to save the seeds from one plant and these seeds are shared through the school’s seed lending library, which the students maintain. Through hands-on experience over the course of 20 garden visits, the students explore and work to improve soil quality by soil testing, using cover crops (nitrogen cycle) and rotating crops. Art is integrated into the garden, from student-created stepping stones and signs to the beautiful cob entrance way. Tastings are an integral part of the experience, ranging from steamed artichokes to fermented drinks. During the 2014-2015 school year, we aim to focus more deeply on the central importance of soil, with twin goals of introducing our students to the carbon cycle and steadily improving the soil quality within the Hall Food Forest. A focus on soil quality is a perfect opportunity to introduce students to the carbon cycle and demonstrate how organic gardeners and farmers can constructively engage in the carbon cycle in a manner that is climate-change beneficial, returning more carbon to the soil than is emitted to the atmosphere. Similarly, our soils focus will provide an opportunity to introduce concepts of soil hydrology and the importance of SOM in water retention and agricultural drought resilience. As we further refine and strengthen our enhanced Food Forest curriculum, we hope to share successful approaches and saved seeds with other regional school garden leaders through our web site communications and local groups such as the Marin Master Gardeners and Marin School and Community Garden Network."

Susan Moen Nunes, Pacific Coast Charter School, Watsonville, CA
Project: Ode to Organics or Nutrition Navigation
"The project will have three objectives: The first goal will be to educate students about the conventional vs. organic farming. They will need to learn vocabulary, concepts and resources around this topic. They will make charts and diagrams comparing the two types of farming. Next, students will use produce that is picked and/or purchased at Live Earth Farms in Corralitos to dehydrate and store for healthy eating year round and on-the-go. This will support nutrition for busy people. Finally, students will use their new knowledge and results to write poetry or short essays to the public, in an effort to inform and raise awareness in the community about the benefits of organic farming. Students will create posters supporting this theme, that we will hang in the District Office, Classroom and a local restaurant."

Paige Pleasant-Howard, Phillips Elementary School, Napa, CA
Projects: Seed Germination and Saving Seeds
"The goal of this project is to utilize the school garden by creating common core lessons with student hands on gardening tasks which would allow them to understand the seasonal needs of agricultural production. They will physically participate in the entire cycle of producing organic vegetables from seed to seed. A secondary goal is the have students use critical thinking skills to address needs in the school garden as well as plant life cycle needs. The project would begin in fall with seed gathering of the summer crops. Students will harvest, learn to dry, package, and label summer crop seeds for next season’s planting. This annual project will also contain composting lessons in fall. In November, students will germinate seeds for their winter crop at the school garden. Students will be creating their own potting soil based on needs. The growing process will include lessons on plant needs and location, transplanting techniques, and the use of mulching as a means to limit watering. At harvest, a percentage of plants will be let go to seed. The understanding of pollination and interdependent relationships between plants and animals may be reviewed or assessed. Students will harvest, dry, package, and label winter crop seeds for next year as they did in fall from the summer crop."

Barbara Roether, Casa di Mir Montessori School, Campbell, CAGrafting
Project: Orchard of History
"The Orchard of History project will help students to create a small orchard of organic fruit trees in order to learn about the history of orchards and fruit production in the Santa Clara Valley. Students will choose and plant trees, care for them , learn about orchards, fruit, and how our community grew from it’s agricultural roots to the tech center of today. An accompanying curriculum, created by the teacher, will connect students to related topics in history, environmental studies, and nutrition. The orchard would be established on a small area of land at Veggielution Community Farm in San Jose. Our school will be responsible for establishing and caring for the orchard; and for sharing our curriculum materials with interested teachers."

Barbara Simpson, Pinewood Elementary, Pollock Pines, CA
Project: Eating a Rainbow
"While involving students in choosing plants to grow in our school garden we want to educate them of the health benefits of eating fresh colorful produce. We will plant a variety of crops that will be used in our school cafeteria and will also be canned to enjoy in the winter. We will also involve students in constructing a new worm bin and continue working with the cafeteria staff to collect the green waste to use in our worm bin. Our goals are to continue to educate students of the health benefits of eating fresh organic produce and have them experience the difference in eating ripe, fresh picked, organic produce compared to store bought produce. Each student will be involved in the selection of the plants to grow in their class' raised bed and will continue to be involved in the planting, tending and harvesting. Additional produce not consumed in the cafeteria will be canned and dried for future consumption and interested students and parents will learn canning techniques. Fourth grade students will also be involved in the job of gathering the cafeteria green waste and tending the worm bins. They, along with all students will learn about the benefits of vermicomposting and we will use the rich soil in our garden boxes."

Samantha Stuller, Valley Oak Middle School, Visalia, CA
Project: Fantastic, Organic Mini-Lessons!
"My project is a series of mini-lessons that would take place over the school year, with 7th and 8th grade students at Valley Oak Middle School. These projects will be relevant to our unit of instruction and help students understand the importance of science on Tulare County's robust agriculturally based economy. These projects will also help students understand that organic agriculture is one production method farmers may use to be mindful of our natural resources while supporting the importance of a safe and abundant food production. My ideas for the mini-lessons include grafting a citrus or apple tree; testing of organic soils for pH and N-P-K; conducting bioassays to test the potential toxicity levels from agricultural runoff and local water ponds; and to make coloring changing carnation arrangements to develop an appreciation of Tulare County's . A series of independent mini-lessons will allow the science department to directly and efficiently integrate relevant agricultural topics into our curriculum that has a rigorous and strict pacing calendar. Our students live among a wealth of agriculture and natural resources, yet they themselves don't really know how food is produced and they face extreme food insecurity in their own homes. The greatest outcome that we could have as a result of this grant is for our students to walk away knowing that agriculture is part of the solution to the problems we face in the local community. I want students to know that science through agriculture is a way to: securing food in the community, a pathway to advanced careers and to preserving and maintaining our rich natural resources through mindful, organic farming.  Students will exposed to the innovative and sustainable ways organic agriculture benefits our food supply and the environment. Students will learn that organic methods work to reduce environmental impact by using mulches, biological pest controls, natural pesticides, compost and crop rotations."


Today, less than 1% of America’s farmland is organic, and farmers who want to transition their land face a long and costly process. Hear from CCOF's CEO Kelly Damewood about what we're doing to address this challenge:

One percent