An animated talking tomato stars in an award-winning University of Missouri Extension video that follows the journey of fresh vegetables from the farm to dinner tables and school lunchrooms.
Winner of a 2012 Telly Award for outstanding television programming for children, "From the Farm to You" combines animation and real-world scenes as Tomás the Tomato takes viewers on a food odyssey from farm fields to grocery stores, farmers markets and school kitchens, and finally to cafeterias and dining rooms.
"From the Farm to You" was developed for Food From the Farm, an MU Extension program that connects kindergarten students and their families to local farmers to encourage eating local fruits and vegetables and to help the students understand where their food comes from. The program includes healthy eating and agriculture lessons, local fruit and vegetable tastings, farm trips to local farms and parent engagement.
"Over the course of the program, we identified a need to develop a resource that would explain to the children how local foods are distributed," said Annette Triplett, Food From the Farm state coordinator.
"While the students were gaining understanding of healthy foods and where foods come from, there seemed to be a lack of understanding of how the foods were distributed to schools, grocery stores and farmers markets. 'From the Farm to You' was developed to address this need," she said.
Triplett developed "From the Farm to You" in collaboration with two video producers from MU Extension's Cooperative Media Group: director/videographer Michael Hicks and editor Robert Mize, who also created and animated Tomás the Tomato.
"We wanted to keep the children engaged in the real-world story of how food gets to their plates, so we chose to combine actual footage from the farm, market and home with an animated talking tomato," Hicks said. "Tomás the Tomato catches their eye right from the start. We even designed the video to be watched as a group and paced the edits to give the children a little time to laugh and check each other's reactions."
The video begins with tomatoes being harvested, sorted and packed at Fahrmeier Farms in Lexington, Mo., then follows the tomatoes as farmer Bret Fahrmeier takes his produce to a Kansas City farmers market, an elementary school and a supermarket.
The Food From the Farm program is distributing the video to participating schools.
The video was funded in part by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City, the Junior League of Kansas City and the USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
The DVD is available for $9 from MU Extension publications. Visit www.extension.missouri.edu/N762 for ordering information. A 28-page "From the Farm to You" illustrated children's book is also available.