Left: Assistant Superintendent Donna Rose, Santa Paula Unified High School District looks over the beets that she had just picked at UC Hansen Agricultural Research and Extension Center. Right: Erynn Smith, Farm Educator, talked about what they do. Smith noted that they supply over 1,000 pounds of vegetables each week to the Ventura Unified and Conejo School Districts.
County school officials tour area agricultural sites
May 02, 2014
Santa Paula News
Ventura County school officials toured local farms, learning about the Farm to School program
This program brings together schools, area growers and community partners to help get more nutritious, fresh, seasonal and local foods into school meals. In addition its designed to integrate school gardens into onsite programming, provide nutrition education and agricultural literacy throughout the K-12 curriculum. The program also helps kids and their families learn about where their food comes from, who grows it and how farming enhances our community, our environment and our economy. Improving childhood nutrition and connecting local growers with our schools are the main goals of the program.
It was funded in its first year through a USDA grant and currently reaches over one-third of Ventura County’s 142,000 school children in six school districts.
Early results indicate that participating districts have increased their local produce purchases by 50 percent on average, with some districts more than doubling their local sourcing. The Santa Paula Unified School District is not currently in the program, but they are looking at getting involved. Assistant Superintendent Donna Rose and Jeremy Schoengart, Director of Child Nutrition Services both joined the tour to find out more about how the Farm to School program works.
The half-day tour stopped at the UC Hansen Agricultural Research and Extension Center’s “Join the Farm” four-acre farm west of Santa Paula. Erynn Smith, Farm Educator and Reyna Ortega, Farm Manager greeted the school representatives and talked about what they do. Smith noted that they supply over 1,000 pounds of vegetables each week to the Ventura Unified and Conejo School Districts. “Join the Farm” is a program of The Abundant Table, which offers innovative, farm-based programs for public schools and school-aged children.
The Abundant Table’s farm supports it’s farm-to-school, agricultural and nutrition education and youth development initiatives. Proceeds from its community supported agriculture vegetable sales help fund this work.