3 fresh takes on school farms

kids farm produce

As the push for local produce on school menus grows, districts have come up with new spins on school farms to control costs and add a greater variety of fresh produce to cafeteria dishes. Here are three ways schools are revamping their approach to farms. 

1. Orchards

fruit orchard

Calistoga Junior-Senior High School in Calistoga, Calif., is expanding its farm to include an orchard full of nut and fruit trees. Led by science teacher Jeremy Grove, the orchard’s trees will be indigenous to the region, including apple and pear trees. Produce from the orchard will be used in both the high school’s cafeteria and culinary program. 

2. Mobile greenhouses

mobile greenhouse

Milwaukee Environmental Sciences Academy, a charter school in Milwaukee, created a mobile greenhouse that supplies produce to the community and the school’s cafeteria. The greenhouse was crafted by a local construction company free of charge (a local architect created the design). The greenhouse houses growing seedlings, which are replanted in raised garden beds at the school as they mature.

The greenhouse, which is hitched to a trailer, also acts as a mobile market supplying fresh vegetables, herbs and spices to the surrounding community. Leftover produce is used in the school cafeteria’s salad bar. 

3. Food forests

food forest

Miami-Dade County Public Schools has turned to food forests to supply its school cafeterias with fresh produce. Unlike school gardens, the forests feature plants that naturally thrive in the area and don’t require as much maintenance. Schools in the Miami district plant different crops to reflect the cultural diets of their student bodies; schools with large Cuban populations, for example, plant yucca and malanga.

Each forest costs $30,000 to construct and an additional $500,000 a year to maintain. The district receives grants to cover the construction and upkeep of all 51 food forests in its district.

More From FoodService Director

Managing Your Business
management team

Last week’s NACUFS National Conference proved to be a treasure trove of management and staffing takeaways. Here are a few we noted at the annual event , held this year in Providence, R.I.

1. Make it scalable

When explaining something new to staff, instead of asking, “You got it?” or “You with me?” have employees rate how well they understand the new material on a scale of 1 to 10, said Ron Paul, a senior consulting partner for Partners in Leadership, during a session on building accountability in the workplace. People are likely to say yes even when they don’t fully grasp what you’...

Ideas and Innovation
song break

Once per month in a daily huddle, we dedicate a few minutes for the staff to sing a short song. The staff has responded so positively to this. They now bring costumes and other props. It's a few short minutes, but the payoff has been tremendous.

Photo courtesy of iStock

Ideas and Innovation
plastic straws

An item about the size of a pencil has become the latest target in foodservice operators’ sustainability plans. Though small, plastic straws are said to have a large impact on the environment, with Americans using approximately 500 million straws each day, according to a release from Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium, which temporarily ditched plastic straws as part of an Earth Day promotion this year.

In recent months, a growing number of eateries and cities across the United States have scrapped plastic straws. In July, Seattle enacted a ban on plastic straws and utensils, requiring...

Industry News & Opinion

Medford High School in Medford, Mass., is looking to add an orchard to its campus, Wicked Local reports.

The idea for the orchard was brought forth by students looking to help combat food insecurity. They are working with the school’s nutritionist to make the orchard a reality.

If planted, the orchard would be located inside the school’s courtyard and would grow fruits such as apples, paw paws, blueberries, peaches and plums. It would also include an outdoor classroom space.

The school committee signed off on the project last year; however, some administrators are...

FSD Resources

Code for Asynchronous jQuery Munchkin Tracking Code