Rogue Valley Farm to School – 3rd Annual Concert – June 29th 4pm to 8pm

You are invited to the 3rd annual Turnip the Beet benefit concert featuring Eight Dollar Mountain and Alqumistas at Fry Family Family Farm on June 29th in support of Rogue Valley Farm to School. Founded 15 years ago, Rogue Valley Farm to School was one of the region’s first programs bringing food systems education to public schools. In today’s interview we spoke with Kristin Pew, Co-Executive Director, about Rogue Valley Farm to School and its mission of educating children about our food system through hands-on farm and garden programs and by increasing local foods in school meals.

Kristin, thanks so much for taking the time to speak with me today and to tell me about your amazing organization. To begin with, please give us a little history and background about your organization.

Thank you for having me. Rogue Valley Farm to School was started fifteen years ago by a dedicated group of parents, teachers, and advocates with a shared vision of connecting young students with their local food system. Starting as a pumpkin harvest tour for young elementary students, kids would be guided around a working farm and ultimately pick a pumpkin from the vine.

While seeing the students’ excitement while outside working with the land and learning about food, the idea of Rogue Valley Farm to School was hatched.

Fast-forward 15 years, and we are serving more than 3,200 students with our education programs and 6,500 students with our procurement (local food purchasing) programs.

Kristin, Rogue Valley Farm to School was one of the first in the country to pioneer this vision. Please say more and talk about the increasing public awareness and interest in this movement.

Yes, fifteen years ago, the farm-to-school movement was in its infancy. It was much less structured and supported than it is today. People were working to incorporate food systems and nutrition education into public schools and groups advocating for better school meals, but the cohesive effort and discussions on a national scale did not exist back then.

Currently, big conversations are happening about school food at the local, state, and national levels. The quality of what is being served and who has access to those meals are getting a lot of attention. This conversation is helping move the farm-to-school movement along as more and more people become aware of the benefits of teaching nutrition and scratch cooking at a young age and offering fresh, nutrient-dense foods in school meals.

One in five kids in Oregon is food insecure. School meals help bridge the gap in nutrition for thousands of kids each day in the Rogue Valley. Oftentimes these kids do not have access to fresh fruits and vegetables at home, so providing them in school where they eat up to three meals per day is a wonderful way to ensure equitable access to these essential foods. Additionally, our local small farms are struggling financially. It is just such a natural fit for our local farms to provide fresh local foods for our students who need them most.

Can you give us a scope of the types of projects you are covering here in the Rogue Valley?

Rogue Valley Farm to School is unique in providing both education and procurement (local food purchasing) programs. This layered approach to program delivery helps foster a culture of health within the school and ensures a rich, meaningful educational experience.

Currently, we provide the most in-depth programming at eight Title 1 elementary schools within the valley; this is our Digging Deeper School Partnership Program. A Rogue Valley Farm to School garden educator is embedded in each school to lead weekly hour-long garden education classes, monthly tasting tables where students can try locally grown fresh fruit or vegetables, Harvest of the Month materials, and bi-annual farm field trips. In addition, the classroom teachers are provided with professional learning opportunities, and their school nutrition staff are given help with local ordering, recipe development, and hands-on training to become more comfortable using farm fresh produce in school environments.

The farm field trips are always a highlight with the students. Twice yearly, our education staff brings them to a working farm for four hours! During this time, students harvest seasonal vegetables in the fields, learn knife skills and basic scratch cooking techniques in the outdoor kitchen, and learn about either animal husbandry or pollinators. At the end of the experience the students sit together and enjoy the meal they all worked together to create. It is amazing to see how completely engaged these kids become out on the farm, it’s truly a special experience for everyone.

We also offer shorter visits to the farms for pre-K through second-grade students. Our classic pumpkin harvest field trips take place in the fall, and we have farm explorations in the spring.

Our procurement team publishes a weekly availability list distributed to all the school nutrition directors in Jackson and Josephine counties. This list features what is currently available for purchase from 22 local food producers and the cost, pack weight, serving size, and ordering information. The State of Oregon provides grant funds to all schools participating in the National School Lunch Program to purchase local foods; however, each year, many of these free funds go unused because the school nutrition staff do not have the capacity to source local foods. Streamlining the ordering and delivery process for schools is increasing the use of local food products in school meals while providing a new revenue stream for local producers.

Rogue Valley Farm to School also serves as the state network hub lead for farm-to-school education and procurement and, through that role, can help support others doing similar work in the valley.

It’s a lot of moving parts; we call ourselves a “small but mighty” organization.

Please tell us about your big event, Turnip the Beet at Fry Family Farm. 

Yes! This is our third annual benefit concert, Turnip the Beet, at Fry Family Farm, and this year is also a celebration of our fifteenth anniversary as a non-profit organization.

It’s a family-friendly evening featuring music from local bluegrass band Eight Dollar Mountain. Alquimistas, a band featuring Afro-Brazilian beats and melodies, will open the show. Our signature two-part raffle is looking very enticing, with a lot of really amazing prizes donated by local businesses. Tacos Libertad will be there providing fresh, organic, local food for purchase.

Fry Family Farm is just such a beautiful venue that creates a spectacular backdrop for the whole event. Kids will be entertained with free activities provided by Rogue Valley Farm to School staff, and parents will love the great selection of beverages available for purchase.

Turnip the Beet is, at its heart, a fundraiser that is crucial to supporting our programming, it also is a really fun way to get to know the organization! We currently have volunteer positions open to help during the event, volunteers receive free entrance in exchange for working one shift. If you are interested in volunteering please contact

How many schools are you actually working with here locally?

Currently, we deliver education programs to eleven local elementary schools and provide procurement (local food purchasing) support to all school nutrition directors in Jackson and Josephine counties. We haven’t finished the spring field trip season yet for this year, however, during the last school year, we provided farm field trips to students from 17 different schools.


We are also the state network’s regional hub for farm-to-school education and procurement, so we provide learning opportunities and assistance to those who are conducting this type of education outside our organization.

With this fundraiser how much do you hope to raise?

We hope to raise $10,000 with Turnip the Beet. These flexible dollars really help our organization stay nimble, allowing us to respond quickly to our community’s needs.

Our Digging Deeper School Partnership program is provided to eight Title 1 (federally recognized low-income) schools. When working with these schools, Rogue Valley Farm to School provides an on-site garden educator for each school. Because these schools are in low-income areas, the burden of funding these positions and programs falls on us as an organization, which is why the support of the community is so critical to ensure the longevity of these programs.

Do you have any last thoughts or comments you would like to share with our readers here today?

We feel lucky and privileged to have been serving the Rogue Valley community for fifteen years. To have started as a tiny volunteer-run operation, it is truly the community’s support that has brought us to where we are today. Everyone who has volunteered, donated, attended an event, or helped spread the word about Rogue Valley Farm to School has been an integral part of our growth. Not all regions are as supportive of farm to school programming as ours is, and I just have to thank our community for valuing our young residents and advocating for their wellbeing.

Organizational Information and Event Info:

Saturday, June 29, 2024

4:00 PM to 8:00 PM

Fry Family Farm Store

Kick off Summer with Eight Dollar Mountain at Rogue Valley Farm to School’s annual benefit concert, sponsored by Fry Family Farm. Enjoy a memorable evening full of dancing and fun. The program features a two-part raffle with thousands of dollars worth of exciting prizes donated by local businesses and free kids activities.

The event is being held at Fry Family Farm, 2184 Ross Lane, Medford, OR. Food is available for purchase and beverages have been generously donated by several famous local wineries and breweries. (Nonalcoholic options are also available.)

This is a family-friendly event with children’s activities available at no additional cost.

Gates open at 4 pm, the first raffle is at 5:15 pm

– $35 admission per adult

– Kids are free and must be accompanied by a ticket-holding adult.

– Food and beverages are available for purchase. No outside food or drink is permitted.

– Please leave your pets at home

– Bring blankets or chairs to set up on the lawn, no reserved seating is available.

– 100% of proceeds benefit Rogue Valley Farm to School

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