Sustainability in Practice: San Diego Schools Turns Old Bus into Mobile Farm

San Diego Schools hope to transform a school bus into a traveling farm.

San Diego Unified School District is taking the classic school icon—a yellow bus—and transforming it into a mobile farm. The project is modeled after the Truck Farm, a traveling “farm” planted in the back of an old pickup truck.

“Obviously it’s not a farm, but a tool to inspire people to think about where food comes from, why it’s important to know where your food comes from, how food is grown and to show that you can grow food in weird, exciting places,” says Vanessa Zajfen, farm-to-school specialist for the district.

Zajfen says the district was looking for a way to expand its farm-to-school program in an engaging way that also would be a learning resource for the schools. “We thought, ‘Hey, we have a bus yard over there with a bunch of buses that are sidelined for various reasons. Could we convert one of those into a farm and make it like the Truck Farm?’”

While the bus farm doesn’t exist yet, Zajfen says she hopes the project will be running soon. One challenge is the bus farm isn’t being funded by the district, so Zajfen is raising funds from outside sources, such as Whole Foods.

To transform the bus into a farm, the seats will be ripped out and the roof of the bus will be removed. Zajfen hopes a glass top will replace the roof, which might also be able to open like a hinge so that an educator can stand in the bus giving lessons while students sit on the outside. Zajfen hopes to install an electrical system and wiring for a hydroponic growing system. Produce will be planted in raised beds. “We have to think about how much soil can we put in a bus and if it gets wet how heavy is it going to be and can a bus [be driven] with all of that [weight]?” asks Zajfen.

Once the bus is running, Zajfen says the mobile farm will visit schools three days a week, in addition to community events several times a month. While the bus is at the schools, students will be able to plant produce in one bed and harvest produce from another bed. The harvested produce will then be served on the school’s salad bar.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., has replaced a fajita bar in one of its dining halls with a superfoods bar, Tommie Media reports.

Aiming to provide more options for athletes and students with dietary restrictions, the new bar offers diners a choice of protein with a variety of toppings, such as beans, fruit, couscous and quinoa.

The superfoods bar has made a few appearances on campus since it was first tried for the school’s football players last summer.

“Word of mouth is getting out, and every day I get a few more people,” Ryan Carlson, a cook at the...

Sponsored Content
gluten free diet

From Stouffer’s.

A large part of menuing allergen-friendly cuisine is deciding which gluten-free items to serve.

In particular, college dining hall operators must decide whether to make gluten-free items in-house or to order gluten-free items from a manufacturer. Some factors to consider are: the size of the university, the demand for gluten-free options,and the ability to have separate gluten-free storage and workspaces in the university dining hall kitchen.

According to FoodService Director , 77% of college and university operators purchase their gluten-free...

Industry News & Opinion

Reading Hospital in West Reading, Pa., is using robots to help deliver patient meals, BCTV reports.

The eight robots, named TUGs, will be used to transport meals from the hospital’s nutrition services department to patient floors at Reading HealthPlex for Advanced Surgical & Patient Care.

Moving at three miles per hour, the robots will follow preprogrammed routes to the HealthPlex, where room ambassadors will remove room service carts from the TUGs and deliver them to patients. The TUGs will then return to nutrition services with dirty dishes for cleaning.

The...

Industry News & Opinion

Sodexo has partnered with fast casual Blaze Pizza to offer the chain’s signature pizzas, salads, beverages and desserts at select venues served by Sodexo, including colleges and universities.

Bill Lacey, senior vice president of marketing at Sodexo, said that Blaze’s growth in the fast-casual sector drove the partnership. Blaze opened its first unit in 2012 near the University of California at Irvine. Its pizzas are flash fired, cooking in under 180 seconds, according to the chain—a selling point for busy customers.

FSD Resources