What is Arkansas Farm to School?

ARGH ARFarmToSchoolLogo HorizShort 600pxArkansas Farm to School is an information and networking hub for farm to school practitioners in the natural state! We find ways to connect Arkansas farmers to preschools and K-12 schools, so that they can provide fresh produce in school meals and nutrition education opportunities for students. School Gardens are an integral part of farm to school, and are supported by the programs at the Access to Healthy Foods Research Group at Arkansas Children’s Research Institute (see below).

Where is Arkansas Farm to School Based?

Advances in pediatric medicine begin with a vision for a future in which all children can grow up to be healthy adults. Arkansas Children's Research Institute (ACRI) researchers share this common vision and have devoted their lives to making this vision a reality. At ACRI, children are at the center of everything that we do. Researchers at ACRI are addressing a broad spectrum of children's health concerns, such as the biological mechanisms underlying birth defects; diabetes-related complications; and numerous childhood diseases, including asthma and cancer. Research expertise is diverse, ranging from basic science to clinical and community-based research.

Who is Arkansas Farm to school?

AC ResearchInstituteThe ACRI Access to Healthy Foods Research Group conducts state-of-the-art clinical, translational, and community-based research and provides leadership and coordination between various local and state partners to obtain evidence that can be used to develop strategies leading to the prevention of childhood obesity. Our strategies include the establishment and promotion of farm to school practices, school and community gardens, and sustainable agriculture practices. Our community and school garden work is supported largely by the Arkansas GardenCorps Program.


Judith Weber, PhD, RD
Director / Primary Investigator

Dr. Weber is Co-Director of the Arkansas Children's Research Institute Access to Healthy Foods Research Group and Director of Arkansas GardenCorps. She is also Professor of Pediatrics in the College of Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Dr. Weber is a childhood obesity researcher with over 20 years of experience in obesity prevention, including energy balance, and dietary and physical activity assessment. She has a history of consistent funding from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for studies addressing individual and environmental risk factors for obesity and related chronic diseases. Over the past 5 years Dr. Weber’s research has focused on school garden and farm to school programs for increasing children’s access to fresh fruits and vegetables as an obesity prevention strategy. Dr. Weber obtained her PhD in Nutritional Sciences in 1994, and completed her postdoctoral training in Physiology in 1999, from the University of Arizona. She is also a Registered Dietician. In her role as Lead Investigator, Dr. Weber is responsible for the direction of all aspects of the overall program.

In her spare time Judy enjoys cooking, cycling, reading murder mysteries, being a huge football and tennis fan, and obsessing over HGTV and the Food Network.



Emily English, MPH, MPS
Program Administrator / Director, Arkansas GardenCorps

Emily English is a Program Administrator in the Arkansas Children's Research Institute Access to Healthy Foods Research Group. She manages the Arkansas GardenCorps program, an AmeriCorps program that places year-long service members in school and community gardens across the state, and supports farm to school capacity building projects across the state. She received her Master of Public Service from the Clinton School of Public Service and her Master of Public Health from the College of Public Health at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, where she spent much of her time working on developing farm to school initiatives in Arkansas. Prior to graduate school, Emily worked on and managed small, organic farming operations in Arkansas and Oregon.

When not in the office, Emily spends her time gardening, cooking, wrangling a husband and toddler, and trudging her way through a doctoral program in public health leadership.

CaleCale Nicholson, MA
Program Manager / Assistant Director, Arkansas GardenCorps

Cale Nicholson is the Assistant Program Director of Arkansas GardenCorps and the Garden Program Specialist for the Arkansas Children's Research Institute Access to Healthy Foods Research Group. He received his BA in English from the University of Central Arkansas and his MA in Southern Studies from the University of Mississippi. He has completed organic gardening internships around the country, culminating in a year managing the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project at the Heifer International Ranch in Perryville, AR. Cale created the Teaching Garden at the Oxford Boys and Girls Club in conjunction with his graduate work through the Center for the Study of Southern Culture. He also recently created and currently manages the Apple Seeds Teaching Farm in Fayetteville, AR. He supports the Arkansas Grow Healthy Study by providing material for the Arkansas Farm to School newsletter.

In his free time Cale also loves reading the New Yorker, hiking in the Ozarks, and growing his own food!


Jenna Rhodes, MA, MPS, MPH
Program Coordinator

Jenna Rhodes is a Program Coordinator in the Arkansas Children's Research Institute Access to Healthy Foods Research Group. She received a BS in Biology from Northwest Missouri State University.  She later completed a concurrent degree program and received a Masters of Public Service from the Clinton School of Public Service, and a Masters of Public Health, Health Behavior and Health Education Concentration, from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. As a part of her graduate work she performed qualitative data collection and analysis from school and community partners involved in several new Arkansas school gardens, as well as worked on economic development projects related to walkability and strengthening local community organizational capacity, including the creation and continued coordination of a diverse community coalition.

When Jenna isn't at work she sings with Top Of The Rock, an all-female barbershop chorus, and attempts to be physically active, but mostly watches crime dramas on television.

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