Food & Agriculture Education

Educating on Food & Agriculture

Food and agriculture education is a central aspect of robust farm to school programs. Education in farm to school is not prescriptive and can encompass:

Without an educational element, farm to school programs are less able to impact their students’ attitudes, knowledge and behaviors around food. 

The Illinois Farm to School Network provides resources to all Illinois school districts for education in farm to school programs. This website is populated with resources and tools for every aspect of farm to school education. Once you’ve explored this toolkit, check out our Taste Test Toolkit in our flagship program  Illinois Harvest of the Month.

Do you have a story about your school’s educational programs or are you able to donate your curriculum to our resource guide? Contact the IFSN to have your materials included.

Fresh from the Farm

Aligned to the Common Core standards and Illinois State Learning Standards, Fresh from the Farm curricula are designed to engage children from 1st through 8th grades. Each lesson is assigned Common Core Standards. The complete list of Common Core Standards that the nutrition lessons will achieve can be found here. Fresh from the Farm is comprised of three sets of curricula: Sow and GrowRoots and Fruits, & Linking Plants and Food. To view these, select “Fresh from the Farm” from the website’s main menu or click here.

Sow and Grow

Sow and Grow is an elementary curriculum designed to educate children about various plants and their parts, how plants grow, where our food comes from, and what is required to grow a healthy plant.

Roots and Fruits

Roots and Fruits combines classroom curriculum, school gardens, organic farm tours, school lunch reform, and whole school wellness strategies to obtain a positive impact on children’s diet and consumption of fruits and vegetables.

Linking Plants and Food

By incorporating several core concepts, Linking Plants and Food instills a deep understanding of a sustainable food system and uses the local environment as a focal point for learning. This place-based education creates a meaningful and culturally relevant framework for learning.

Resources for Nutrition Education

There are many resources online, free for schools to use in the classroom or garden. Nutrition education is a key element of farm to school, from Pre-K to high school. Students who learn about why eating healthy food is important for their growth, and are more frequently exposed to different kinds of foods, are more likely to eat healthfully. In the classroom, there are many tools and curriculum teachers can use. Here are a variety of free tools for nutrition education with a farm to school lens.

Fresh from the Farm, Seven Generations Ahead

Aligned to the Common Core standards and Illinois State Learning Standards, Fresh from the Farm curricula are designed to engage children from 1st through 8th grades. Find the curricula by clicking ‘Fresh from the Farm’ on our main menu above.

Parent School Garden volunteer letter
Here at Seven Generations Ahead, we encourage classroom teachers who are working on gardens, food taste tests, and other farm to school activities to ask their parent volunteer force for help. This is an example of a letter that teachers can edit and use in their classrooms for this purpose. Please use it!

Great Garden Detective, USDA

This standards-based curriculum is great for use in classrooms and the garden. The curriculum is designed for third and fourth graders and comes with a good amount of materials, handouts, posters, flash cards, and pre-made activities. Elementary schools that participate in the National School Lunch program are eligible to get a free copy on the USDA website.

Edible Schoolyard Resource Hub

The Edible Schoolyard is a program based in Berkeley, California, that has gained national attention. Their website has user donated curricula modules, lesson plans, and recipes for free use.

Good, Clean and Fair Curriculum, Slow Food USA

Slow Food USA is part of the international Slow Food organization, which organized Terra Madre and the Ark of Taste. In the US, their school garden program features classroom curriculum all about food. The “Good” section of their curriculum is all about building students’ healthy attitudes about trying new foods.

Garden-Enhanced Nutrition Education, Western Growers Fdn.

The Western Growers Foundation’s Collective School Garden Network has developed an extensive list of resources that link nutrition education to school gardens. Many resources here are used in California school gardens and were developed by the California Department of Education.

Take a Field Trip

Field trips to farms are fun for students and teachers and provide great links to school garden programs and local food cafeteria programs. Imagine visiting the farm that is providing your school with milk, apples, or another Illinois product!

Illinois Farm Bureau 

If you are seeking a farm to visit, the Illinois Farm Bureau is a great resource. Reach out to your county Ag Literacy Coordinatorfrom Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom to learn more about the farms in your area. IATC also offers the ‘Adopt a Classroom’ program that links schools with ag writers.

Angelics Organics Learning Center

In Northern Illinois, there is an educational farm that offers field trips and workshops for all ages: Angelic Organics Learning Center. Angelic Organics Learning Center is a member of the Illinois Farm to School Network.

Liberty Prairie Foundation

Liberty Prairie Foundation, a 501(c)(3) private operating foundation in Grayslake, Illinois. The foundation works to build and strengthen the local food system while supporting healthy ecosystems and vibrant communities. Prairie Crossing Farm is the Headquarters for the foundation. The foundation offers many programs such as farm and youth development, leadership and financial support for sustainable local food system developmentconservation and environmental education, and social entrepreneurship. Prairie Crossing Farm is an organic farm that is the source of the food used in the Prairie Farm Corps youth program. This is an interactive and educational program where young boys and girls can learn to plant, grow, harvest, and cook organic, locally procured food. The foundation also offers tours on its organic farm and provides links to other nearby farms that also offer farm tours.

Illinois Farm Field Trip Map

Are you an Illinois farm who hosts field trips on your farm? 

Contact us and we will add you to the growing list of farms partcipating across the state for our mapping project! 

Do you want to learn more about how to start farm field trips at your Illinois farm?

If you are considering hosting field trips on your farm, we can direct you to the specialists, UI EXT and the IL Farm Bureau to help you begin your project. 

Get the Parents Invovled

Many farm to school education programs incorporate parent education as a part of their curriculum. There are many benefits of bringing parents into the program, and these can include: 

Those were just a few examples of why bringing parents into farm to school programs works. Many non-profit organizations also give nutrition and cooking classes to parents in a way that is consistent with farm to school ideas.

Here are some programs with resources on how to effectively teach parents, from cooking to shopping.

Meatless Mondays

Eating less meat and more healthy plant-based foods can help reduce the incidence of chronic preventable diseases, preserve precious land and water resources, and combat climate change. Creating a Meatless Monday campaign is a great way to connect your garden to your parents and families at home!

Cooking Matters

Cooking Matters

Cooking Matters provides free resources, including lesson plans for all ages, recipes, handouts, and more, for those in the community who want to provide food education to families. Cooking Matters also offers hands on cooking classes taught by trained professionals for groups all over the country.

Chop Chop Family Resources

The ChopChop Kids Club weekly newsletter includes at-home cooking curriculum to support kids’ learning, to help keep them calm and busy, and (bonus!) to put food on your table. With so many children and teenagers home from school, now is a great time to learn to cook together.


Does your organization offer free programming to parents of school children in farm to school programs? Contact the IFSN to get on this list.