Maine Farm & Sea to School Network at Healthy Communities of the Capital Area kicked off the first Maine Farm & Sea to School Institute last month. Three school district teams from across the state convened Aug. 16-18 at The Ecology School at Riverbend Farm in Saco.

The districts included Regional School Unit 22 (Hampden-Winterport), RSU 89 (Katahdin Schools) and School Administrative District 17 (Oxford Hills), according to the Gardiner-based network.

This workshop program introduced school teams to Maine’s local food system landscape and is the culmination of years of efforts to make the program a reality.

The school teams learned about Maine’s food system resources and designed a values-based school food system plan with their colleagues and an assigned coach. The plan addresses incorporating local food into the school meal program, hands-on learning in school gardens and classrooms, and involving the local community.

The program launch included a diversity of workshops such as culinary activities with Healthy School Recipes, curriculum integration with Maine Agriculture in the Classroom, equity and inclusion training with Racial Equity and Justice, and garden/orchard planning with ReTreeUs.

Participants learned about local food procurement with Maine Department of Education Child Nutrition and school food security with Cumberland County Food Security Council and Full Plates Full Potential. UMaine School of Food and Agriculture and UMaine Cooperative Extension supported middle school participation with college mentors trained via the 4H STEM ambassadors program.

Maine Farm & Sea to School Network leaders, in partnership with the University of Maine, plan to support these districts throughout this school year with site visits, technical assistance, and resources. Applications for the 2023-24 Institute will open in February 2023, and fundraising is underway to support the next cohort of school districts.

For more information, email or visit


Check out upcoming area events!

Comments are not available on this story.