Farmer Trading cards bring farming to school children
When the Loudoun County Department of Economic Development (DED) partnered with the county’s public schools to brainstorm a farm-to-schools related program for a USDA Farm to School Grant, they had no idea that what they would come up with would become such a hit.
The farmer trading cards initiative was meant to educate local elementary school children — most of whom live in suburban areas with no contact with nearby farmers.
The cards include information such as what the farmers grew, who taught them to farm, how long they’d been farming, what they enjoy most about farming and where to find their products.
The DED reached out to all farmers that directly sold products to the public, and the twelve who agreed to participate were featured in the trading cards. The cards were distributed to 55 Loudoun County public schools, and they were so popular that DED had to print a second batch o to meet the high demand, DED Agricultural Business Development Officer Kellie Hinkle said.
Children would even trade sports trading cards for the farmer cards, she added.
Tyler Wegmeyer, a participating farmer, was surprised to learn his son’s classmate traded a Tom Brady card for his farmer trading card, Hinkle said.
The farmer trading cards gained national attention, and school districts all over the east coast want to launch similar programs, DED Marketing and Communications Manager Lois Kirkpatrick said.
The program met all three criteria for a Virginia Association of Counties’ Achievement Award: offering an innovative solution to a problem, situation or delivery of services; promoting intergovernmental cooperation in addressing the problem or situation, and providing a model that other local governments may learn from or implement in their own localities.
DED and the Loudoun County Public Schools plan to continue the program in the 2017 fiscal year with a second edition of the trading cards featuring new farmers.