Farm Stewards Youth Project

Historic Haywood County is home to over 700 working farms encompassing roughly 56,212 acres.   In an era where America loses, on average, two acres of farmland per minute to development—sowing the seeds of preservation and leadership has never been more important. 

According to preliminary 2012 Census data released by the US Department of Agriculture, significant North Carolina findings include a decrease in both farms and farmland.  North Carolina lost 2,703 farms and 62,560 acres of farmland between 2007-2012 which exceeds the rate of national loss.  While we await county-specific data for Haywood, we feel the time for education and advocacy for Haywood County farmland preservation is now!

Our Farm Stewards Youth Project is designed to complement existing “Farm to School” initiatives already active in our community by taking learning outside the classroom to offer students an innovative interdisciplinary learning experience layered with connections to farming and agriculture in our home community.

Participants in our 6-month pilot program ranged in age
from Pre-school “reading buddies” to adult learner and explored interdisciplinary learning in areas such as Economics, Language Arts, History, Visual Arts, Ecology and Physics.
-Testimonials highlighted below-

By utilizing our online 2014 Agritourism Guide database, students Pre K to adult learner, have an opportunity to visit more than 40 Haywood County sites that welcome visitors—including local farms, markets and tailgates, historic sites such as the Francis Grist Mill, and participate in preservation efforts such as the Backcross Chestnut Orchard at Cataloochee Ranch.   Our program is meant to create lasting meaningful connections to the vibrant community of agripreneurs in Haywood County.

How does the Farm Stewards Youth Project work?

We invite you to join our efforts in growing tomorrow’s leaders in farmland preservation.  Using our online agritourism database, teachers may arrange field trips and on-farm learning opportunities directly with the site of their choice.  Our goal is to foster direct relationships between educators and the agricultural community.  Also, this gives teachers an opportunity to communicate any special needs or requests directly to their hosts.  It is that simple!

Field trip scholarships are available from Buy Haywood
to make learning opportunities free or as low-cost to students
as possible.  See below for scholarship information.

Buy Haywood serves as a resource to support individual teachers and farms by providing access to rich educational materials and engaging lesson plans to enhance the learning experience.   Visit our Educator’s Toolbox page.

Our enthusiastic Buy Haywood team is also available to visit classrooms to share more information, facilitate class discussion and answer questions about farming and agriculture in Haywood County.  Our efforts help to build a connection to Haywood County grown products while also fostering a celebration of our rich agricultural heritage.

Scholarships Provided to 334 students & educators in 2014!

Thanks to some generous grant funding from Bethel Rural Community Organization and the Haywood Advancement Foundation, Buy Haywood offered field trip scholarships on a first come first serve basis throughout 2014.

2014 Scholarship Recipients:

Roots in Education Summer Camp
Junaluska Elementary 4th Grade
Jonathan Valley 5th Grade & 1st Grade Reading Buddies
Waynesville Middle School Exceptional Children 6, 7 & 8th grade
Junaluska Elementary 5th Grade

Activity Packets:

We provided “Activity Packets” for every student and “Teacher Packets” for every teacher and assistant to enhance the learning experience. Materials provided by the following partners:

Buy Haywood (Tina Masciarelli)

Canton Branch, Haywood County Public Library (Mannie Crone)

Waynesville Branch, Haywood County Public Library (Kathy Olsen)

Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP)
(Jessica Sparks-Mussulin)

Healthy Haywood / Haywood County Health Department (Megan Hauser)

WNC Healthy Kids (Erin Brasch & Suzanne Metcalf)

MountainWise (Melissa Rockett)

For more information and a scholarship application, please contact Tina Masciarelli, Buy Haywood Project Coordinator at 828.734.9574 or ttmascia@alumni.unca.edu

— Experiences from 2014 Project —

“Our visit to the Francis Grist Mill was very interesting and informative.  We learned about our local agricultural history and were able to tie it into a previous field trip to the Farmers Market.  Many of our participants realized they had driven past the Grist Mill hundreds of times, and never realized its significance. Thank you Buy Haywood and Tanna Timbes for the learning experience!”
-Roots in Education, 2014 Summer Camp Staff

Experiences from 2013 Project Pilot

“I just wanted to say thank you for teaching and sharing with us the past two days about local farming and buying products local.  It helped give me some ideas about getting started myself and with my family.” 
– Brooke Henson, Haywood Community College Adult Education Student (May 2013)

“My fifth graders had their preK reading buddies in tow. Each partner group had $4 to spend (from our ASAP grant) and they purchased honey, honey sticks, mushrooms, egg plant, lots of carrots, broccoli, and apples. Most had never been and most are excited to bring their parents back!”
-Carla Billups, Jonathan Valley Elementary (October 2013)

My son Nick was with Jonathan Valley Elementary School.  He raved about the apples, brought me some broccoli, garlic and a pepper. Thanks for having them!”
-Elisabeth Rich, parent (October 2013)

“We had a great day! The trip was would have just been ‘good’ but having the shopping coupons from Buy Haywood made the field trip ‘GREAT!’  Watching the students shop with their vouchers was a beautiful sight.  On our next visit, I plan to take it one step further and actually cook with some of the produce we purchase.  Buy Haywood made the experience so easy for a teacher.  Thanks for everything!”
-Renee Gidcumb, Riverbend Elementary (October 2013)
 

Implications for life learning

Access, affordability and education around consumption of healthy fresh meals continues to be a challenge for children and families in Haywood County.  The latest hunger statistics in our community signal an increase in food insecurity among families in Haywood.
According to a recent Haywood County Health Department study, the number one health concern in the county was identified as obseity and poor nutrition.  Local farmers have a wealth of fresh fruits, vegetables and other farm products available at many locations throughout the community.  The Farm Stewards Youth Project works in tandem to other outreach projects to connect children and families with farm fresh products.Our database of simple affordable recipes, menu ideas, and outreach events aim to confront the obstacles to healthy eating by bridging the gap between families and quality Haywood County farm products.  It all starts with fostering excitement around fresh food.For more information about our Cooking Local Project (2012-13), Cooking Local Together (2014) and recipes, explore our website!

Top photo of Boone and Goldie, courtesy of Tanna Timbes


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