Arthur shows School Board Superintendent, Dr. Roberts, the lettuce that he is growing for school salads
What a great day for our students and for the local food system! Local government officials, school board members, donors, and friends were given tours of the facility and treated to a lunch featuring food from less than 100 miles away. Gainesville Sun coverage here, WUFT coverage here, and the school board’s own coverage below. We are so proud of this project and looking forward to the first greenhouse lettuce harvest one week from today!
From School Board of Alachua County Website:
“Thousands of additional pounds of lettuce, cucumbers and other fruits and vegetables grown at school and on local farms will be finding their way onto the school lunch plates of Alachua County Public School students this school year thanks to a new initiative based at the Professional Academies Magnet @ Loften High School.
The initiative, called the Alachua County Farm to School Work Hub, is the result of a collaboration between the school, various district departments and a number of other public and private partners. The aim is to give participating students the opportunity to experience first-hand the process of bringing food from ‘seed to plate’ and to include more locally-grown produce in school meals.
Since the beginning of this school year, teachers in the district’s Exceptional Student Education program, with assistance from experts from the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and the Forage Farm, have been helping special needs students start up both indoor and outdoor vegetable production programs on the PAM @ Loften campus. Outdoors, students are growing vegetables that will be allowed to go to seed. Students will save the seeds for future use, and the plan is to expand the outdoor growing area to produce additional fruits and vegetables for the district’s school lunch program.
Indoors, two aging greenhouses have been renovated to include a state-of-the-art hydroponic system for growing lettuce and peppers and producing plants for gardens in other schools.
Meanwhile, in collaboration with the district’s Food and Nutrition Services Department, the school’s kitchen is being prepared to become the new collection and processing facility for both the student-grown produce and produce from local farms to be distributed to fifteen local schools. Already students have processed and packed persimmons and grapes that were distributed to more than 1500 elementary school students. Along the way they are learning job skills including the proper handling of food.
The Farm to School Work Hub initiative has received significant support from other community partners, especially the Shively Foundation, Lowe’s, the local affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, the Education Foundation of Alachua County, Watson Compost, and Dr. Kim Kazimour.”
Matthew gave tours of the shade house
Tudorel with the school garden transplants