Explore the Austin area food system and farm to institution gems through a number of exciting field trips to farms, food hubs, hospitals, schools and more or power up through participation in one of the two focused short courses.  All field trips and short courses take place on Tuesday, April 15th. Short courses and field trips are not included in conference registration–to register, please visit the conference registration page.

Notes on field trips and short courses:

  • Conference participants register for short courses & field trips through the  conference registration page.
  • Space in field trips & short courses is first come, first serve.
  • Some spaces are reserved for scholarship recipients.
  • Field trips are rain or shine. Bring rain gear and extra layers.
  • Wear good walking shoes.
  • Snacks are provided for all field trips and short courses. Lunch is provided on some field trips. See specific field trip description. Short courses do not include full meals.
  • All field trips depart from the Hilton Austin.
  • Some field trips and short courses are adaptable to meet the needs of participants with physical limitations. Please contact Elizabeth Winslow if you have special needs, questions, or concerns.
  • Details subject to change.


Field Trips

Farm to Preschool in Austin
Tuesday, April 15th, 8:30 am -1 pm (half day)

Come see how farm to preschool happens in Austin! We’ll visit two locations with innovative garden programs and food service operations for young children. We’ll also experience tried-and-true, hands-on preschool garden activities presented by Life Lab (CA), Community Groundworks (WI), City Blossoms (DC), and Shelburne Farms (VT). Learn to inspire little locavores back in your own community with farm- and garden-based educational activities. Snack provided.


Growing the Movement in Austin
Tuesday, April 15th,  1:30 – 4:30 pm (half day)
So you want to grow a strong local food system? On this field trip we’ll hear from organizations and individuals willing to share their strategies for growth in the Austin community, including Sustainable Food Center, the Food Is Free Project, the Central Texas School Garden Network, and the owner of a small, local aquaponics farm and community garden that’s creating solutions for making food affordable in low-income neighborhoods.  Snack provided.


Advocating for Healthy Food Systems Change
Tuesday, April 15th,  8:30 am – 1 pm (half day)
A strong local food system requires many champions. On this field trip, we’ll visit Sustainable Food Center’s East Farmers’ Market and community garden, which offers food access solutions to low-income residents of East Austin. We’ll also visit with politicians and local food advocates working to connect local farmers and community member, and with the publisher of Edible Austin Magazine. We’ll hear from each leader about growing capacity through community organizing, grass-roots efforts, non-profit advocacy and the use of a new kind of journalism to create change. Snack provided.


Food System Educational Gems in Austin
Tuesday, April 15th,  8:30 am – 3:30 pm (full day)
A relationship with fresh, healthy food can begin at any age; to foster an ongoing commitment to a lifetime of healthy eating, we need to reach people at all stages of life. Visit sites where knowledge and inspiration are shared from pre-school to seniors and every age in between. We’ll visit an elementary school with a comprehensive family wellness program and school garden, a local farm that offers farm camps for kids and adults, a teaching garden offering programming for both children and adults, and a YMCA offering intensive anti-obesity programming for children and their families. We’ll enjoy a picnic lunch at Green Gate Farms. Lunch provided.


Partnerships Build Community Food System Power
Tuesday, April 15th,  8:30 am – 3:30 pm (full day)
Food systems are strengthened through connections, and communities build power together. On this field trip, we’ll explore dynamic partnerships working to change the way Austin eats. We’ll visit a local elementary school that partnered with the University of Texas to bring whole life change to their community; a mentoring and training organization promoting the connection between cultural heritage, food and a healthy environment; and a university cafeteria partnering with a local non-profit to facilitate connections between food service and local farmers. Lunch provided.


Farm to Cafeteria Across the Lifespan
Tuesday, April 15th,  8:30 am – 1 pm (half day)
Farm to cafeteria isn’t just for kids! Join us for a visit to an elementary school, a university cafeteria and a senior center with a thriving garden. We’ll explore shared and unique challenges and opportunities at all these sites and share resources and best practices. Snack provided.


Putting Food on the Table: Procuring Local and Sustainable Food
Tuesday, April 15th,  8:30 am – 3:30 pm (full day)
Procuring local food on a large scale can be challenging. Come with us to visit three locations approaching the challenge in very different ways—through sourcing directly from farmers, through partnership with a third party facilitator, by collaborating with a wholesale buyer, and by growing some of the food themselves. The sites we’ll visit use various combinations of these strategies, and will share resources and practical tips for creating your own plan. Lunch provided.


Food Justice in Austin
Tuesday, April 15th,  8:30 am – 3:30 pm (full day)
This field trip will explore issues of food justice in the Austin community and visit organizations working to promote the right of food access for all here in Austin. We’ll visit a community garden where refugees grow affordable food; an elementary school working to prevent obesity and health-related disease in Austin’s at-risk community; an organization collaborating with community organizers to build food-buying collectives for people of color; and a community project advocating for independence from a broken agricultural system. Lunch provided.


Local Food Supply Chain – Key Connections in Austin
Tuesday, April 15th,  8:30 am – 3:30 pm (full day)
A food system’s strength lies in the connections between farm and plate. Join us to meet the folks providing this vital structure within the Austin community. We’ll visit a local farm and then follow the food to the plate with several models offering procurement solutions for large-scale feeding operations, including a wholesaler, a co-op and a cafeteria that uses a direct-sourcing model. Lunch provided.


Farm to School – Austin Style!
Tuesday, April 15th,  8:30 am – 3:30 pm  (full day)
Come see how farm to school happens, Austin-style! We’ll visit two AISD middle schools partnering with Sustainable Food Center’s Farm to School and Sprouting Healthy Kids programs; two local charter schools with comprehensive wellness initiatives and thriving school gardens; and a local high school with an innovative culinary arts and gardening program. Lunch provided.


Short Courses

The Farm Visit:  An Integral Piece of Farm to Cafeteria Success
Presented by:  Vera Simon-Nobes, Farm Based Education Network, VT Farms! Association; Peggy Eppig, Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation;  Emily Jackson, Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project – Growing Minds;  Dana Hudson, Shelburne Farms-VT FEED

Tuesday, April 15th, 1:00-4:00pm
Authentic on-farm experiences bring farm-to-cafeteria programs full circle for learners of any age. Join this interactive short course designed to teach educational strategies for engaging farm visitors.  Whether you’re developing field trips, academic tours, family festivals, u-pick, on-farm dinners or something else, attend this session to have fun, dive into program ideas, and gain resources to strengthen your farm-to-cafeteria connections.


Farm to Fork: Food Safety for Locally Grown Produce
Presented by the Produce Safety University Team (Cyndie Story, Tom Schwartz, Kathy Staley, Julie Skolmowski)

Tuesday, April 15th, 8 am – 12 pm
In recent years, food safety on farms has been a hot topic of discussion among growers, buyers, sellers and consumers. Sourcing safe produce and handling it properly are top priorities for foodservice operators. USDA experts will teach you how to bring farm to fork with food safety in mind, in a manner consistent with the business model of both the farm and the foodservice operation.  This interactive workshop is based on USDA’s award-winning Produce Safety University. Learn how Good Agricultural Practices, Good Manufacturing Practices, and liability insurance apply to suppliers of fresh and fresh-cut produce and determine which food safety requirements to include in your procurement specifications. Leave with an understanding of how produce markets work so that you can secure products at a price that the foodservice operation can afford to pay and that the grower can earn. Experts will also share science-based recommendations for handling fresh and fresh-cut produce in a foodservice operation.


Evaluation for Transformation: Unveiling of a Cross-sectoral Evaluation Framework for Farm to School
Presented by a collaborative team led by the National Farm to School Network

Tuesday, April 15  8 am – noon $50
Come join a working session of evaluators, researchers and practitioners for a sneak peek at a pioneering resource: a cross-sectoral farm to school evaluation framework, developed collaboratively with input from more than 60 experts. The framework provides common language for articulating farm to school outcomes across sectors (public health, economic development, education,= and environmental quality) and evaluation resources and tools for multiple audiences. Participants will be engaged in activities and discussions to provide input on the framework content and will have the opportunity to explore how the resource can be used across sectors and users to influence the field of farm to school evaluation.