2023 Louisiana Farm to School Conference- Growing New Connections

View the Complete 2023 Conference Program.

The annual Louisiana Farm to School Conference gathered participants from across the state for an opportunity to learn, celebrate, share and inspire the movement of bringing healthy, local, sustainably grown foods to the minds and plates of students in Louisiana and beyond! Attendees can attend in-person sessions guided by farm to school champions from across the state. In addition, the gathering featured a venue for networking in a relaxed, face-to-face environment, allowing participants to grow lasting connections.

In case you missed the conference or a particular session, you can find all the speakers presentations below.

Keynote Address

Given by Christina Melton, Executive Director of the Knock Knock Children’s Museum

Break Out Session One

  • Serving School Garden Produce in the Cafeteria
    Bringing school garden produce into the school cafeteria can be a win-win: food service staff find a local source of fresh produce, and students enjoy the bounty that they helped plant and harvest. With proper attention to food safety, both in the garden and in the cafeteria, students are able to see their food change from seed, to plant, to lunch!

  • Keep it Moving: Crop Rotation
    Did you know you should rotate the plant families grown in garden beds each year? Did you know plants have families? Join Denyse Cummins as she explores the ins-and-outs of crop rotation. Participants will get the chance to practice planning a spring garden using what they learn.

  • Better Together: The Power of Partnerships
    As farm to school programs move forward, resiliency and creativity are top of mind as efforts continue to keep children fed and educated on where our food comes from. This session focuses on farm to school partners who are leveraging and leaning into collaboration to support the needs of students and families in communities across Louisiana.

Break Out Session Two

  • Local Procurement Strategies
    This session will help you get familiar with ways to bring more local foods to the school meal tray. A basic overview of procurement principles and regulations as they relate to Louisiana will be discussed, as well as identifying areas of flexibility to target local products. This session will explain how a child nutrition director begins buying from a local farmer, the farm tour process, what to look for, and the procurement process.

  • Planting the Seed: Harvesting Connections
    Regina Smart, Calcasieu Parish High School Teacher of the Year for 2022, will share her experience in establishing a school garden, overcoming obstacles and garden growing pains, and using the garden to connect and involve students and the community to producing food sustainably.

  • Experience the Garden with the Classroom in Mind
    Learn how two Louisiana schools are incorporating farm to school within their school culture and classroom curriculum. These educators represent excellence in extending the classroom to include the garden for grades Pre-k through 8th grade.

Thank You to this Year’s Exhibitors! Click each logo to learn more about each exhibitor.

LDAF Produce Safety

2022 Louisiana Farm to School Gathering

Seeds to Success: The Louisiana Farm to School team is thrilled to welcome you to the sixth annual Louisiana Farm to School conference! This year’s gathering will have the same great content attendees have come to expect from our annual event – inspiring sessions, abundant resources, and knowledgeable speakers. We are grateful we can continue to connect with our stakeholders and bring them the opportunity to network, share and gain knowledge while celebrating the successes of farm to school from around the state.

Check out the Conference Program

This year’s program is full of great information to guide you through the gathering and more! You can find the general schedule on pages four and five. The schedule includes a brief description of the sessions, the speakers, and where the session will be taking place. In addition, the program includes information on the 2022 Louisiana Farm to School Challenge and Great Louisiana Satsuma Peel. New this year is our Farm to School Art Contest. Share your students’ artwork and enthusiasm for farm to school by submitting their artwork to be featured in our 2023 Seeds to Success Calendar! Check out pages six, seven, and eight for details and deadlines.

Why I Love Farm to School

Beverly Girard, a consultant with Chef Cyndie’s K12 Culinary Team, will kick off the conference with the keynote address on why she loves Farm to School. Beverly Girard is a coach and leader to many professionals in school nutrition, specializing in operational and financial management. She has over thirty years of experience providing leadership, mentoring, and training for staff and dietetics students in school nutrition operations and management, quantity food production, nutrition education, and customer service. 

Strategies to Grow your Farm to School Program

This session will cover how to scale your farm to school program, no matter how large or small. Learn how one parish harmonized multiple schools to scale a farm to school program parish-wide. Hear more about questions to consider and helpful resources that unlock new value to your farm to school program.

Agritourism and the Benefits of Students Visiting the Farm:

Want to know the ins and outs of agritourism? Get a behind-the-scenes view of coordinating and hosting farm tours with K-12 schools. Discover how a trip to visit a farm and meet the farmer can be a memorable and educational day your students are sure to remember!

Connecting the Classroom to the Garden

Hear first-hand accounts of how teachers enhance their classroom by adding an outdoor laboratory, a garden! The session will include insight into school garden experiences, using tools from Seeds to Success, and how student excitement keeps the momentum going. Discover how Master Gardeners and teachers can join forces to bring student learning to new heights through school gardens guided by knowledgeable volunteers.

Taste Testing with Food Safety in Mind

Nutrition demonstrations and taste tests are a great way to teach children about food safety and trying new foods. This session will break down taste testing in step-by-step, time-saving strategies that can also help build an amazing classroom culture around fresh, local food.

2020 Louisiana Farm to School Conference

Check out our interactive Conference Program: Using the “Virtually Everywhere” Conference Program’s table of contents, you can click on the day and/or a specific session. Each session is broken down into a link to watch the recording, description of the session, speakers and their contact information, and resources to further your conference experience! The resources for each session include websites, activities you can do from home, more information on farm to school, and how you can get involved in your community food system.

Keynote & COVID-19

Welcome Address & Keynote

Join us as we kicked off the 2020 Louisiana Farm to School “Virtually Everywhere” Conference with a welcome from our local and national partners who share our passion and dedication for moving farm to school forward in Louisiana.


COVID-19 & Farm to School

When the COVID-19 emergency closed schools across Louisiana, child nutrition programs responded by instantly pivoting their practices to ensure children and families continued to have access to nutritious food. This session will showcase Child Nutrition Program Directors from two districts. Participants will identify strategies to incorporate farm to school practices and local foods in school nutrition programs during public health emergencies and natural disasters.


Watch the Full Day:

Local Procurement & School Gardens

A Story of Local Procurement

We will discuss a basic overview of procurement principles and regulations as they relate to Louisiana and identify areas of flexibility to target local products. Celeste Finney will share her story of local procurement in Lafayette with Lester Williams (Farmer) and Crystal Besse (Louisiana Farm to School Program). This session will explain how a child nutrition director begins buying from a local farmer, the farm tour process, what to look for, and the procurement process.


Farm to School Garden Sustainability

Learn how to start and maintain a successful school garden from three non-profits through generating buy-in, building a team, finding funding and support, gaining growing know-how, and using your garden to involve students. Also learn how to use and maintain your gardens during a pandemic!


Harvest of the Month Taste Test

Sweet potatoes are in season! Let’s highlight them this week with a lunch prep featuring local sweet potatoes and Louisiana Harvest of the Month. The taste test will showcase how to make Sweet Potato and Black Bean Quesadillas and will include tips and tricks on prepping and cooking Louisiana sweet potatoes. Get your local ingredients together and join us in a healthy lunch as we learn more about this wonderful root!


Watch the Full Day

Farm to School at Home & Success Stories

Farm to School Education at Home

With COVID-19, many schools have gone partially or fully virtual this school year. In this session, you’ll learn about the farm to school resources and activities available for education at home! Thus, helping to ensure that even from home, agriculture is incorporated into the classroom.


Farm to School Success Stories

Are you considering incorporating farm to school in your area but are not sure what to do? This session will highlight how others around the state have gotten involved to share some inspiration and motivation to get you started!


Watch the Full Day

LA Heritage & The Food System

Louisiana Heritage in the Cafeteria

In this session, we’ll discuss the importance of carrying on our Louisiana culture through our cuisine and explore the practical ways to select and incorporate foods that reflect Louisiana heritage in the cafeteria.


Farm to School in the Food System

This session will be about the role of Farm to School in the Food System and show how different parts of the food system affect others.


Harvest of the Month Taste Test

Broccoli is in season! Let’s highlight it this week with a lunch prep featuring local broccoli and Louisiana Harvest of the Month. The taste test will showcase how to make roasted broccoli and will include tips and tricks on cooking, storing, and growing this cold season crop. Get your local ingredients together and join us in a healthy lunch!


Watch the Full Day