Tell Us A Story About a Meal

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Thumbnail image for 0109_RFSFashionInTheFields_111118_MCW.jpgFor the 14th year, we are encouraging fourth graders throughout Houston to put pen to paper for our story writing contest around favorite holiday foods. This annual contest encourages students to write thoughtfully and descriptively about their favorite holiday foods and traditions. It also focuses students on the importance of family meals while providing teachers with a powerful tool to support their core objectives in language arts. Additionally, it helps students explore the many facets of food and recipes, including step-by-step procedures and measurements, as well as their diverse cultural histories and family traditions.

Submissions are due by October 25, 2019. Teachers at participating schools will select one winning essay from their student submissions for entry in the citywide contest. One essay per school will be accepted by the Foundation. Advance registration is required through Jennifer Fridley at jennifer@recipe4success.org, and the contest is open to all Houston elementary schools. Schools implementing the Foundation's Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ are already pre-registered for the contest.

"Recipe for Success created our annual writing contest to encourage students to focus on the importance of building family food traditions and offering a fun, festive opportunity to practice writing skills that support state test standards," said Gracie Cavnar, founder and CEO of Recipe for Success Foundation Founder. "This is one of the cornerstone tools Recipe for Success uses to weave our healthy food messaging into the curriculum of our participating Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education schools."

The grand-prize winner will be recognized during Recipe for Success Foundation's Fashion in the Fields at Hope Farms on Sunday, November 10 and roll up their sleeves in January 2020 as Chef for a Day to prepare a celebratory meal at Bistro Menil, alongside Greg Martin one of Houston's celebrity chefs. The student chef and celebrity chef then share that meal with the student's family, friends and school representatives. The winning essay will be showcased online at www.recipe4success.org.

The 2018 winner was Nadia Rosado (pictured above) from MacGregor Elementary School in HISD, who wrote a beautiful story about her abuelita's (grandmother) "famous" empanadas. Excerpts from Rosado's contest entry explained how "Empanada's are one of the few foods that unites all of Latin American. I bet that my Abuelita's empanadas are some of the best in the world. They are simply delish!" For the winning story, Nadia got to spend a day being a chef alongside Greg Martin, chef/proprietor of Bistro Menil. The two spent the day in the kitchen, prepping a meal for the Rosado family.

PBS Features Seed-to-Plate

Recipe for Success
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Ernie in our classroom.pngCheck out this wonderful for PBS story by reporter Ernie Manouse when he visted our classrooms at MacGregor Elementary School.

Transforming Warriors to Farmers

Recipe for Success
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2019 Cohort cropped.jpegOur nation has a long history of welcoming our troops home and bringing them back into a life where they can work and study out of harm's way. We are honored to provide a unique career opportunity to these four outstanding veterans as they embark on their life's next chapter.

Today we announced the members of the second class of our Warriors to Farmers Training Program at Hope Farms. Four outstanding military veterans have been selected for this unique program which will prepare them to successfully operate their own urban farm and help us solve widespread food inequity issues in Houston and beyond. The 2019 cohort includes (pictured above with me at Tyler Froberg) Oriana Franklin, Samuel MacCammon, Stephan "Miles" Cook and Linda Stafford.

Our Hope Farms farmer training program is meant to expand the urban farming footprint in Houston and other cities and by doing so, make healthy, affordable food more accessible to all citizens. During their 2,000 hours of training at Hope Farms, veterans will learn how to utilize small-scale, intensive organic growing methods to maximize and optimize the production of fruits and vegetables and earn a good living to support their families on a micro urban farm. Houston's year-round growing season affords the veteran trainees with unique opportunities to understand and experience a robust four-season diversified fruit and vegetable farm, including planting and cultivation, pest, disease and weed management, irrigation, compost systems, harvest and post-harvest handling, quality control, poultry and egg production, beehives management and honey production. Veteran participants will also learn operational aspects of product sales and distribution including running an on-site farm stand, CSA programs, restaurant sales, and farmers market sales. Thanks to a grant from the USDA, veterans selected for the program are given the year-long, 2,000 hours of training free of charge, awarded a monthly living stipend and may earn bonuses through the year for exceeding expectations.

Upon completion, trained veterans qualify to join our Hope Farms Co-op, which will market and distribute their crops and they may also benefit from our Business Incubator Program, which will provides land acquisition support, access to equipment and two years of operational advice. This support is designed to ensure their fledgling farm businesses thrive.

The 2019 cohort reflects a cross section of military service and deployment. Each member has had life-changing experiences while serving our country. All of them expressed a common, overarching reason for seeking the Warriors to Farmers grant award: to help bring healthy food to others as they reacclimatize to civilian life while overcoming their war-time traumas. Studies by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs have shown that programs such as the Farmers Veteran Training Program at Recipe for Success have led to improvement and positively impacted physical and mental health of veterans, who have reported a reduction in anxiety, depression and pain.

The 2019 Warriors to Farmers Cohort

Stephan "Miles" Cook served in the United States Army for 11.5 years after graduating from the University of Houston with a Bachelor of Science in human resources development. Cook became interested in becoming an urban food grower after spending time on an urban farm. Up for the challenge, his goal is to become a diversified herb producer.

Oriana Franklin served five years in the United States Army after graduating from San Jacinto College with an associate's degree in applied science. Franklin has installed many green spaces around the country while working with Mission Continues and has a deep understanding of non-profit operations. She was present at the 2016 groundbreaking of Hope Farms and is looking forward to gaining a greater understanding of day-to-day farm operations.

Samuel MacCammon graduated from The United States Military Academy at West Point with a Bachelor of Science in international law with a concentration in environmental engineering. He served for six years in the United States Army and has worked in supply management for the past three years. A career change to urban agriculture is aligned with MacCammon's interest in sustainable food production and feeding local communities.

Linda Stafford graduated from American InterContinental University with an associate degree in business administration and served for 14 years in the United States Army. Stafford has always felt at peace in the outdoors, with many of her fondest childhood memories tied to working in her mother's garden, which led her to pursue this unique career opportunity in urban farming.

Funded by the United States Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the Hope Farms Warriors to Farmers program is available exclusively to veterans and rooted in a hands-on curriculum comprised of horticulture, crop planning, enterprise and supply chain management, farm accounting and marketing and business planning to introduce urban farming and profitable business operations.

Wells Fargo Does It Again!

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Our friends at the Wells Fargo Foundation are continuing their support by contributing to our Hope Farms Veteran Program workforce development! Wells Fargo has been a long-standing partner of Recipe for Success Foundation and we value their partnership as we work together to build stronger communities. Our nation has a long history of welcoming our troops home and bringing them back into a life where they can work and study out of harm's way. We have created a unique 2,000-hour training program designed and offered only to military Veterans. With funding from Wells Fargo, we will be able to further empower our new Veteran Farmer Training Program Manager, Tyler, in his effort to transform our veteran trainees from warriors to farmers. We are deeply grateful for lasting relationships with companies like Wells Fargo, who support our mission throughout all of our programs as we teach, empower and inspire healthy eating.

If you or a veteran your know are ready for the challenge and satisfaction of growing and providing nutritious food to our community, we encourage you to apply for a scholarship. The application deadline for 2019 is September 8, 2019 at midnight central standard time. See the application here!

New School Year with Nutritious & Delicious Fun!

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As we approach the 2019-2020 school year, we are pleased to announce ten new Recipe for Success Affiliate Partner Schools in Houston! Thanks to H.E.B and United Healthcare Foundation, thousands more children will learn healthy eating skills with our Seed to Plate Nutrition Education™.

A huge welcome to Alcott, Bastian, Codwell, Condit, Grissom, Mading, Mitchell, and Shadydale Elementary Schools along with KIPP Dream and Pershing Middle Schools -- our newest Affiliate Partners. Teachers at all the schools have been going through our S2P Instructor Training this summer as they prepare to launch their programs on their home campuses. We are thrilled to be working with these fantastic schools, their faculties, parents and especially the students! There is always room for more, so please reach out if you are interested in bringing our Seed to Plate Nutrition Education™ to your child's school.

Our two Showcase Schools are are planning enhanced programming this year to help us test out new concepts and content. Rodriguez Elementary is extending our Seed to Plate Nutrition Education™ program to all students from kindergarten through fifth grade. MacGregor Elementary will have both second and fourth graders learning about healthy eating hands-on. Paris, our Culinary Director, and Amanda, our Garden Educator have curated an updated Farmers MarKIDS curriculum for this year to test in our Showcase Schools and we cannot wait to see all the delicious fun.

Thanks to Cigna, dozens of Title One school classes will visit Hope Farms this fall where they will get hands on in the fields and then prepare a healthy salad. Any school or group can make a reservation for a Hope Farms Field trip and a healthy hands-on taste of our Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ delivered by our educational team. You can request field trips at hopefarmshtx.org

Be sure to follow us on social media to stay informed of "all things EDUCATIONAL" at Recipe for Success.

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Love, Tito's Community Garden

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Partnerships play a huge role in our ability to provide our programming, both in schools and on the farm. We had an amazing work day to close out May with Tito's Handmade Vodka on the farm during their Love, Tito's event. Just like RFS, Tito's Vodka believes in the power of people coming together to accomplish big things! Love, Tito's is a social experiment to reconnect communities, one block at a time. The Tito's Vodka family worked alongside local nonprofit organizations in Los Angeles, Miami, and Houston to help support urban farms to make fresh, healthy food more accessible to the local community. Together we built 21 raised beds for our new Hope Farms community garden, as well as expand the pollinator garden in front of the farm. The hard work, dedication, and initiative of all those who helped is so greatly appreciated! We love building lasting relationships with companies like Tito's Handmade Vodka, who support our mission as we teach, empower and inspire healthy eating. A HUGE thank you to everyone who came, and the Tito's Vodka family for helping us make this a reality!!

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Welcome Farmer Nick!

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Nick 3.jpegWhile we say goodbye to some, we welcome others to the team! You may have seen him around Hope Farms for the last month, learning about the property and new climate, but now it's time for an introduction. Nick DeBrock, recently moved from Connecticut where he ran vegetable production for The Hickories, is our new Hope Farms Manager. He is your go to for farm shares, restaurant sales, day-to-day production and our weekly farm stand! We're excited to start this new chapter, and extend a big Texas welcome to this new personality! We asked Nick a few questions to dig a little deeper, see the Q&A below.

What is the biggest difference in farming in Southeast Texas versus Connecticut?
The biggest change is just how drastic the timing is on fruits and vegetables. It is July and tomato season is over, whereas in Connecticut we are lucky to get a tomato before July 4th. Another obvious difference is the lack of winter here meaning an opportunity to grow year round.
What is the next step for Hope Farms?
Hope Farms is in a big transition point at the moment and the answer to this can be quite vast! We are going to continue to add more acreage into production slowly and sustainably, allowing for a steady increase in produce production. This naturally leads us to expanding our markets and popping the Rolling Green Market up at more locations. My goal this next year is centered around getting repeatable systems down for a more economical and sustainable farm.
We know you love veggies! What is your favorite vegetable to grow?
My favorite vegetable to grow has to be a pepper. A pepper in my opinion can offer such a variety of flavors that are so unique. They can range from sweet as an apple to too hot to even touch and if you dry them out they take on a whole other range of flavors. Peppers simply are the most rewarding vegetable to grow.
What is your favorite thing you have done in Houston so far?
I feel like I am so wiped from the sun that I barely do anything. Just yesterday I was driving home from Wabash feed store with Alex (my partner). Traffic looked awful on 610 so we decided to turn down a random road where we drove by El Bolillo Bakery. We immediately u-turned and found ourself walking into pasty heaven. We must have bought a dozen pastries, all of which were amazing, for just over five dollars. Turns out the bakery seems to be a pretty big deal to certain Houstonians. What made it special was finding this gem by accident.
What drew you to RFS?
I always wanted to grow food to make a change! I found myself growing food on a family farm in Connecticut which provided experiences I would not change for anything, however I felt though that I was not doing enough. I wanted to make a difference not just for one small community, but for a whole city. Recipe for Success and Hope Farms takes this challenge head on, while also allowing for the growth of new urban agriculture in an area so desperate for farmers and their produce.

CultureMap: Tomato Tasting, Strawberry Moon & Van Gogh at Hope Farms

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8JqM4qNm.jpeg"Under a full strawberry moon (a tasty beacon, indeed), Gracie Cavnar, founder of Recipe for Success, orchestrated her popular Chefs in the Field supper. Hosted by Recipe for Success Foundation at Hope Farms, the evening brought the farm to the table, featuring fresh produce and a menu showcasing the best of the season..." Read More from Steven Devadanam at CultureMap

Field Trips to Hope Farms

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Stories From the Classroom by Paris Anton & Amanda Howard: Spring is a time of both rebirth and growth in our garden, classrooms and farm! As cool days begin to warm it's finally time for our farmers-in-training to put their hands into the soil. The end of the school year ended with a BANG for both our showcase schools with 4th grade field trips to Hope Farms! Between MacGregor Elementary's 84 students and Sylvan Rodriguez Elementary's 164 students, the farm was abuzz with more than the bees in the apiaries.

Our S2P kiddos ended a fun filled year spent in their gardens and culinary classrooms seeing the likes of a real working farm, participating in the day's harvest followed by tastings, egg collection in the chicken coop, making seed bombs in the children's garden, and a mass of apron decorating of their very own R4S aprons to take home! The students left no stone unturned in their hunt for lady bugs, rolly pollies, and butterflies too. While listening to the chatter during our harvest lunches, one could overhear our student's exclamations of joy and laughter, and see our impact in their smiles and eyes. The transcendence of joy throughout the fields truly left an impact on all of our R4S team that will last us until the next school year!

We've Had a Full Plate This Year! And More to Come!

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End of the Year Wrap Up by Jen Fridley: As we closed down the 2018-2019 school year in our Showcase Schools, we are excited to announce news that our Farmers MarKIDS Market was a huge hit at Sylvan Rodriguez Elementary School. Our students displayed the characteristics of little entrepreneurs and agri-business marketers. It was definitely a successful undertaking with the entire school community. Brothers Produce even stopped by to purchase produce from our stand. Our students experienced real life connections in the food industry from seed to plate! Combined with Art for Sale, the Urban Farm led up by Farmer Moore, produce from the garden, and jarred goods from the Culinary Classroom, our students are able to purchase a birdbath for the garden for the enjoyment of everyone with the funds from their market!

On the horizon for the 2019-2020 school year we are thrilled to report that our Affiliate Partnership Expansion initiative with funding from United Healthcare has rapidly grown throughout the Sunnyside Community Schools with close proximity to Hope Farms. Ten new schools that we have partnered with for next school year are as follows: Bastian Elementary, Mitchell Elementary, Codwell Elementary, Mading Elementary, Alcott Elementary, Condit Elementary, Pershing Middle, Green Villas Elementary, Young Elementary, and Shadydale Elementary Schools. These schools are joining us in the effort to teach, empower and inspire our children about food choices and opportunities with our award-winning Seed to Plate Nutrition Education Program. Their school leaders are just as ecstatic as we are to get their students out to visit Hope Farms in the fall!

And lastly, our work does not slow down because it is summer. We are already busy at the farm with our newest Urban Farmers Camp and after that our Girl Scout Sow What Journey, along with several other camps occurring at the Recipe House later this summer. Stay tuned for more exciting news as the summer progresses!
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