Garden State on Your Plate

Garden State on Your Plate: Linking Farm to School

The farm-to-school pilot program, funded by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, brought fresh produce and products from local farms into schools’ cafeterias, where local chefs prepared recipes for tastings for the students, parent voluteers, plus school employees.

The pilot program, which took place primarily during the 2010-2011 school year at both Littlebrook and Community Park Elementary Schools, was designed to feed the students’ needs for fresh food and to begin to link for them the food they eat to the Garden State and to the larger world. Further, it began to forge new bonds between schools, the community and local farmers.

Each of four chefs – Chris Albrecht from Eno Terra, Alex Levine from Whole Earth Center, Rob Harbison from Princeton University Dining Services, and Gary Giberson from Sustainable Fare and executive chef at The Lawrenceville School – appeared twice at each school during the year. 

Monday, March 7, 2011. At a recent teacher-garden workshop hosted by the Princeton Public Library, Sharon Goldman, principal at Community Park Elementary School, explained her evolution to enthusiastic booster of the gardens and food-based learning. The workshop, conducted by Dorothy Mullen and Diane Landis of the Princeton School Gardens Cooperative, drew 80 participants from the mid-Atlantic region.

Other aspects of the program throughout the year included: farmers’ visits to school; regular communication with parents via backpack notes and recipes to encourage their participation; plate-waste tracking and surveys to see what foods children favor; chefs’ recipes using Garden State produce; facilitating related field trips; scheduled tastings in the classrooms; supporting resources for teachers, about food and health, agriculture and the local economy; and creation of a documentary designed to help other schools in their farm-to-school efforts.


As each month featured a different vegetable or fruit from the Garden State, posters were created around these. Here are just a few examples of the fresh produce used throughout the year – these posters were on display during the events to help students think about the flavors and textures they were experiencing:

Click any image to view the full size poster…
Click any image to view the full size poster…