Innovative Farm Education Programs Bring Farming and Nutrition to Life

Children (and Adults) Make Healthier Food Choices if they Understand where the Food Comes From

Sharon Kleyne Hour Power of Water interview of April 30, 2012 with Stuart O’Neill and Tracy Hardy, of Rogue Farm Corps and Rogue Valley Farm to Schools.

According to Stuart O’Neill, people are more likely to make healthier food choices if they understand where food comes from and the difference between naturally grown foods and commercially processed foods.

O’Neill works with an educational and volunteer program, based in southern Oregon’s Rogue River Valley, called the Rogue Farm Corps. He was interviewed on the Sharon Kleyne Hour Power of Water talk radio show of April 30, 2012. On the same show, Sharon Kleyne also interviewed Tracy Hardy of the Rogue Valley Farm to School Program.

The Sharon Kleyne Hour Power of Water is heard live Mondays at 10:00 (PST/PDT), on World Talk Radio, Green Talk Network, Apple iTunes and Voice America. Podcasts of archived shows are available at WorldTalkRadio.com.

The Rogue Farm Corps is a non-profit farm education and training program. The Farm Corps’ training program, called the Farms Next Internship Program, is dedicated to training young farmers in organic, sustainable agriculture. O’Neill notes that this type of experience is important because only 1% of the US population participates in commercial agriculture.

In the Farms Next Internship Program, students live on a host farm for a season, during which they participate in all aspects of the farm, tour other farms and attend classes organized by Rogue Farm Corps.

Stuart O’Neill and Sharon were surprised that only 1% to 2% of food sold in Rogue River Valley supermarkets are locally grown. Local food crops include fruit and vegetables, meat and dairy and a few grains. The valley’s largest agricultural crop is hay. Other major crops include pears, gladiolas, beets and turkeys.

O’Neill noted that the Saturday Grower’s Markets in the Rogue Valley communities of Grants Pass and Ashland are extremely popular and that a few growers are able to earn a living exclusively through these markets.

Tracy Hardy of the Rogue Valley Farm to School Program also expressed concern to Sharon Kleyne about the importance of making sure children know from where their food originates when purchased in stores. Like Stuart O’Neil, she believes in the importance of consuming locally grown food whenever possible because local foods better adapted to the nutritional needs of local residents (and require less fuel to ship). Her program sponsors summer camps and school field trips to local farms. It is attempting to enlist a participating farm in each Rogue Valley community.

Sharon Kleyne and Tracy Hardy agreed that childhood obesity is a national health crisis and that nutrition education, and being aware of food choices other than fast foods and sugar drinks, are crucial to fighting the problem. Rogue Valley Farm to School is a leader in attempting to persuade local school districts to purchase more locally grown foods direct from the farms for their school lunches.

Sharon Kleyne reminded listeners that, “What you put in your mouth determines your health. Natural, healthy foods are not expensive and fresh vegetable produce costs less than prepared foods (although fresh produce is becoming more and more prepackaged and may be imported from Mexico or Chile in the off-season). Either way, medical care, the frequent result of poor food choices, is a lot more expensive.

And, of course, Sharon Kleyne urges everyone, as the first step towards good nutrition, to drink eight to ten glasses of pure water each day.

The Sharon Kleyne Hour Power of Water is broadcast live on Mondays, 10 a.m., PST/PDT. The syndicated talk show is heard on Voice America/World Talk Radio, Green Talk Network and Apple iTunes. Go to http://www.SharonKleyneHour.com for written summaries and on-demand replays.

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