Saratoga Springs, N.Y., October 23, 2013 –Students on four State University of New York (SUNY) campuses will be eating more locally grown vegetables thanks to a federal grant award to American Farmland Trust’s Farm to Institution New York State (FINYS) Initiative for a pilot project called Farm to College.
The four SUNY campuses are the University of Albany, SUNY New Paltz, SUNY Oswego and SUNY Oneonta.
Funded by a $99,427 Specialty Crop Block Grant from U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Farm to College pilot program will increase the use of fresh, frozen and processed vegetables raised by New York farmers by all SUNY colleges.
"This funding will help American Farmland Trust and its partners expand markets for New York farmers while getting even more nutritious New York products into our state’s colleges,” said Acting State Agriculture Commissioner James Bays.
The Initiative involves a statewide partnership of agricultural, public health and economic development interests who will work with foodservice providers on these campuses to increase their purchases of locally grown produce such as potatoes, greens, tomatoes, squash and beans.
"Our state’s colleges and universities represent a huge market for New York’s farmers,” said David Haight, New York State Director for American Farmland Trust. “More than a million college students are enrolled in the state’s 64-campus SUNY system as well as in private universities, community colleges and other institutions of higher learning. Expanding these markets will create economic opportunities for farmers and reduce the likelihood that they will be forced to sell their land for real estate development.”
The goal of FINYS is to remove the barriers to increasing the volume of food produced in New York that is served in public and private institutions, such as colleges, schools, hospitals and senior centers.
"Without a doubt this will have an impact on the bottom line for farmers living in the vicinity of these schools,” said farmer Richard Ball, of Schoharie Valley Farms in Schoharie County, New York. “My goodness, within a 100 mile radius of any SUNY institution across the state there is a lot of locally grown food available. There are many farmers looking to get into this.
"People need to understand the impact of the food system on the economy,” said Ball. “Buying from local farms is about sustaining the local economy. If New York State does business with New York farmers, upstate agriculture will do just fine and that helps local economies. That’s because famers employ people. They buy things. They need services. Farmers make the economy work.”
"The availability of locally grown food on campus has multiple benefits for the students,” said University of Albany graduate student Jeremy Grunstra, who assists in the school’s Office of Environmental Sustainability. “Locally grown food tastes better and it is better for you because it is less processed. In addition, students care about their impact on the environment and the local economy and getting locally grown food on campus is part of that.”
For more information on the Farm To Institution Initiative, visit www.finys.org or contact AFT’s New York office in Saratoga Springs, NY by calling 518-581-0078.
Farm to College will also be one of the topics of the day at Harvesting Opportunities in New York, a conference about growing local food economies and protecting farmland hosted by American Farmland Trust on November 20 in Albany, New York.
The conference’s Buy Local track features “Taking Farm to College to the Next Level, ” a workshop about how farmers, students, faculty, food service providers, food processors and distributors can work together to scale up the Farm to College movement in New York.
For more information about the Harvesting Opportunities in New York Conference, visit www.farmland.org/newyork or call (518) 581-0078.
This initiative has been launched with lead funding from the Joyce and Irving Goldman Family Foundation and New World Foundation Local Economies Project.
The American Farmland Trust is the nation’s leading conservation organization dedicated to protecting farmland, promoting sound farming practices and keeping farmers on the land.
For more information on the policies and programs of AFT, visit www.farmland.org, follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AmericanFarmland or Twitter www.twitter.com/farmland.