Fundraisers using local food and agricultural products can be a healthier alternative to typical school fundraisers focusing on sales of candy or cookie dough. These fundraisers, also known as "farmraisers," teach kids about local agriculture and support local producers and the local economy. With cooperation from parents, teachers and local producers, farmraisers can be a viable method for schools to raise funds and engage the community. Farmraisers can be as simple or complex as you'd like, by offering anything from a package of local products from which to choose, to bushels of apples, or pumpkins for Halloween.
Here in Michigan, Pepper Bromelmeier, a District Conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Antrim and Kalkaska Counties, redefined fundraisers for her kids' school by connecting with local growers and producers. With products like honey, soap, apples, cider, and even bison and trout, this farmraiser became a yearly event that kids and community members alike look forward to. And by organizing a farm tour of participating farms, kids not only learned first-hand about local growers and agricultural products but they also got a lesson in how to successfully market farmraiser products.
Pepper has graciously shared her farmraiser forms and flyers to help other interested schools. Please click on the links below for forms which you can use as templates for farmraisers of your own. For more ideas and tips, check out this Farmraisers information sheet from the Center for Food and Justice at Occidental College and the National Farm to School organization.