FARM TO SCHOOL PROGRAM
We are committed to working closely with our farming partners to buy and serve local fruits and vegetables to our students with over 75 percent of our produce grown within the state of Florida. Our farming partners dedicate acres of their land to grow the products we require for the district’s nutrition program. In 2017, farmers in Ocala County grew over 12,000 watermelons just for the students of Duval County Public Schools.
We also work locally with city farms to grow unique herbs and vegetables – such as okra, Japanese eggplant, dinosaur kale and cilantro – for our students to taste in our Discovery Kitchen presentations. Not only does this partnership continue the farm-to-table trend, it’s an opportunity to introduce kids to a wide variety of fresh, new foods and flavors, while also benefitting the farmers and the entire community.
Through our ‘Get to Know the Grower’ program, we bring our local farmers into the classroom to educate students about food, nutrition, agriculture and environmental stewardship. Our goal is to familiarize children with healthy foods and introduce fruits and vegetables at an early age, as well as show how buying local is a great way to get fresh produce and connect with our community. We want to empower children and their families to make more informed food choices to lead healthy, well-rounded lives.
Benefits of Farm to School
Duval County Public Schools Nutrition Program is dedicated to farm to school due to its many benefits, including the following:
- Local produce is fresher from the field to plate and therefore retains greater nutrients and flavor.
- Farm to School produce has been shown to increase children’s willingness to eat fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Local food circulates money within the community and supports our local economy.
- Farm to School supports jobs in Florida.
- Decreasing the distance food travels from farm to plate reduces fuel emissions, a more environmentally responsible choice, helping keep our air clean.
- Farm to School helps educate students about the origins of our food.
- Supporting local farms protects and enhances Florida farmland.
- Local area farmland increases food security in our region in the event of natural or other emergencies. An interdependent local food system ensures continued access to fresh foods.
- School gardens teach students how plants grow and where food comes from and are shown to increase kids’ acceptance of fruits and vegetables.
Our Florida Farm PartnersNon-GMO | Organic Fertilizers
A family-owned and operated grower in Plant City, FL supplying the district with two million portions of fresh Florida strawberries each spring.
The district has proudly partnered with Cherokee Satsumas for the past four years, receiving freshly picked satsuma oranges seasonally for over 128,000 Duval County Public School students.
Florida Classic Growers
The district has proudly partnered with Located in Dundee, Fla., Florida Classic Growers is part of the Dundee Citric Growers Association, one of the largest fresh fruit cooperatives in the Florida citrus industry. They provide 120,000 pounds of Valencia oranges to kitchens across the district each school year.
Melon 1’s knowledge of the best varieties and growing techniques guarantees the district receives a consistently superior melon product as they provided 250,000 pounds of watermelon and 10,000 cantaloupes for our students throughout the school year.
RC Hatton Farms
Located on the eastern shore of Lake Okeechobee with the most fertile land in the country, RC Hatton Farms boasts acres of fresh corn on cob ready to be harvested for our school menus. Each school year, RC Hatton Farms delivers 16,000 pounds of corn directly to our cafeterias.
Mack Farms is a locally owned farm with a division focusing solely on growing all varieties of new crop potatoes.
White Harvest Farms
Located within Jacksonville city limits, White Harvest Farms has provided opportunities for unique herbs and vegetables to be served on our menus. In addition, they offer our students behind-the-scenes educational tours of the farm to teach them about the origins of produce.
Native Fresh is an aquaponics farm and greenhouse located in the heart of downtown Jacksonville that partners with the district to help educate students on sustainable farming practices and provide samples of their produce to fuel education-based culinary workshops. This one-of-a-kind farm offers our students tours of their facility combined with an interactive lesson plan and educational activities.