VIGFC has been a key leader and advocate for a comprehensive Farm to School program for the Virgin Islands territory. Since 2012, VIGFC has worked hand-in-hand with the Department of Education, and other partners such as the University of the Virgin Islands Cooperative Extension Service to create a plan for and implement farms to school activities within the public and private schools of the territory. This includes bringing more local fresh fruits and vegetables into school cafeterias, educating teachers and administrators on creating Farm to School curriculum and implementing activities, and educating farmers and producers on the local procurement process.
VIGFC serves as an educational resource for local farmers and producers on government procurement procedures, and also hosts training workshops for the Good Agriculture Practices (GAP) and Good Handling Practices (GHP) standards. In addition, VIGFC intends to continue to build capacity among farmers in the Virgin Islands to create collaborative models of business to ensure financial success.
As a community based organization, VIGFC is instrumental in providing education and awareness of food security issues to the general public. VIGFC does this through engaging members on social media, speaking at conferences and forums, and ensuring that food security and agriculture issues are at the forefront of discussion among policy makers and territorial officials.
VIGFC highlights and collaborations:
- The Ridge to Reef Farms received the first local contract to provide fresh vegetables for the school in the St. Thomas school district.
- In May 2015, the Good Food Coalition partnered with the Department of Education and the United States Department of Agriculture to produce the first Farm to School conference in the territory. The conference, entitled “Linking the VI Chain” brought together for the first time educational policy makers, teachers, farmers, producers, and community members to discuss the reality of creating sustainable farms to school program in the territory.
- VIGFC started an “Adopt A Farm” Fund through the St. Croix Foundation to assist local farmers who may need additional help with tools, equipment, and other resources to assist in their farming and business efforts.
- VIGFC also participated in the 2015 USVI Investment Forum to discuss the necessity of investing in agriculture and food security in the territory.
- VIGFC presented Caribbean Agriculture Economic Society meeting
- VIGFC hosted opening event for Launch of Virgins Islands Department of Tourism DINE VI activities. FOODLEARN engaged youth in 9-12th grade and community stakeholders in Farm tour activities and food security discussions. Topped off by 80% locally sourced three course meal prepared by Chef Frank Pugliese and students from various schools.
- Invited to present the Virgin Islands Farm to School Initiative at the 8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference
- VIGFC Farm to School Initiative receives award at Association for International Agricultural and Extension Education (AIAEE). For poster and proposal “An Illustrative Model of Farm-to-School-Program: Advocating Food Safety in Light of Environmental Change in the Virgin Islands”