Plant, Harvest, Eat!

Plant, Harvest, Eat!

FROM: Wendy Collins | Kittery School Nutrition Program, Kittery, ME

TIME: 6 hours

CATEGORIES: Classroom, Community, Cafeteria, Farms + Gardens, Local Purchasing, Partnerships, Youth Leadership

Students partner with a local farm to bring food full cycle, from seed to crops to harvest to table. Students plant, grow and harvest food crops for the cafeteria and learn about the growing process in the classroom. After harvesting, the school purchases the local produce from the farm and school nutrition experts whip up delicious recipes for all students to enjoy. 


  • 1 farm and 1-2 farmers
  • 1 class of students
  • 2 educators (Food service staff, teacher, Farm to School educator)
  • 4 volunteers (parents, teachers, food service staff)
  • Tomato, potato or other seedlings
  • 2 round-trip bus rides
  • Salad ingredients
  • Funding to purchase harvested crops
  • Lots of soil!


STEP 1: FIND A FARM. Explore partnership options with local farms. Find one that has the space available to plant your crops and is willing to work with students on planting and harvesting the crops. Make an agreement about visiting with students, providing seedlings, purchase prices for the produce at the end, and any other key details.

STEP 2: PREPARE FOR YOUR TRIP. Pick a date, arrange for transportation to the farm, permission slips for students, chaperones and staffing. Tell the farmer about the quantity of produce you’d like at the end and ask the farmer to procure seedlings. Be sure students bring clothes to get dirty and plant! Allow two hours for the farm visit, plus transportation.

STEP 3: PLANT AND LEARN! Have the farmer teach the students about planting techniques, soil conditions, and what it takes to grow your crops. Students plant the seedlings and clean up. Have a classroom teacher or after school program educator work with students before or after to research the crop, learn about soil and growing requirements, climate, crop history, or other topics related to curriculum.

STEP 4: CHECK IN AND PLAN. Throughout the growing season, check back in with the farmer to find out how the crops are growing, when they are likely to be ready, and get an estimate of amounts. Plan a recipe that will feature the crops, and order any other ingredients that you will need. Plan and schedule a return trip for students to harvest the crops.

STEP 5: HARVEST! Bring students back to the farm to harvest. Learn from the farmer about harvesting and food safety techniques and the work that went into growing the crops. Students harvest and prepare crops to go to the school. Coordinate with the farmer to get produce cleaned and delivered to the school, if necessary. Pay the farmer fair market price for the produce.

STEP 6: COOK AND ENJOY. School nutrition staff prepare a delicious feast using the produce grown and harvested by students. Celebrate the farm, the food and the students in the cafeteria.


  • Students visit and experience working at a farm
  • Students research the crop and learn about soil, climate, growing cycle, etc.
  • Students develop a sense of pride and satisfaction by growing, harvesting and serving crops to fellow students
  • School Nutrition Program purchases food from local farm, minimizing impact on the environment and supporting the local economy
  • A successful model of a school and community partnership is developed


Learning can also be extended to cover compost and food waste, economics and business development, or other related topics. Older students could be involved in contacting farms and building a partnership with a farmer; developing a recipe; and cooking food.


This project was a partnership with Greenlaw Gardens.

About Farm to School Recipes for Success

From garden parties to cooking contests, farm visits to STEM lessons, farm to school programs all over the Northeast are sizzling! The Farm to School Recipes for Success contest features the top ten best projects, activities, lessons and ideas chosen from dozens of “recipes” submitted by schools and programs in advance of the 2015 Farm to Institution Summit on April 7-9. This contest is sponsored by the Northeast Regional Steering Committee of the National Farm to School Network and is funded by a USDA Farm to School grant with support from the National Education Association. Visit to learn more.