STAR School funded to pilot northern Arizona Farm-to-School Project

Program will represent model for Navajo and Hopi schools and farms

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - The Service To All Relations (STAR) School has announced that it has received $44,334 from the First Nations Development Institute (Longmont, Colo.) and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (Battle Creek, Mich.), to partner with Sandsprings Farm on the first Farm-to-School project in northern Arizona, as a model for Navajo and Hopi schools and farms.

The First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) works to revitalize Native American economies, and support tribes and Native communities to strengthen food systems, improve health and nutrition, and strengthen food security and sovereignty.

Funded through First Nations' Native Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative (NAFSI), STAR School and Sandsprings Farm will research and document state and federal food health and safety requirements to certify local farms to supply public school meals; expand and intensify STAR School and Sandsprings gardens; prepare and disseminate a locally-grounded Farm-to-School Procedures Manual; and mentor collaborating Navajo and Hopi farms and schools.

The STAR School is a small twelve-year-old public charter school directed by Dr. Mark Sorensen, and serving 130 K-8 mostly Navajo children near Leupp. The school is totally off-grid, with solar panels and wind generators providing all the School's electricity. An award-winning member of the Green Schools National Network, STAR models and teaches sustainable principles and practices, including passive solar greenhouses, and rainwater collection for fruit trees, native plants, and corn, beans and squash gardens designed and tended by students and staff.

The Sandsprings Farm was established in the 1960s by John and Mae Yazzie and their extended families, on recently partitioned Hopi lands adjacent to springs along the Dinnebito Wash some 30 miles northwest of Leupp. Including twelve acres of drip-irrigated corn, squashes, melons, chiles and other locally-adapted crops, Sandsprings will collaborate with North Leupp, Beaver, Tolani Lake, Birdsprings, and Hopi family farms to provide high quality traditional foods to the STAR School and others as the Farm-to-School initiative develops.

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