Since opening in 2013, the Turlock Unified School District Farm has continued to expand its reach in educating students about agriculture and serving as a healthy and local source of fresh fruits and vegetables for the district’s school lunches. Earlier this month, the District Child Nutrition Department collaborated with TUSD Farm to host the inaugural Farm to School Expo.
The Expo came on the heels of TUSD Child Nutrition being awarded a $104,764 Farm to School grant from California Department of Food and Agriculture. The Farm 2 School Expo was an effort to invite community members into the TUSD farm and showcase collaborated Farm 2 School initiatives.
“We are hopeful with the recently awarded Farm to School Incubator Grant, that we will be able to plant and harvest more varieties of seasonal fruits and vegetables to meet our growing demand all school year long,” said Director of Child Nutrition Jennifer Lew-Vang.
The F2S Expo drew over 300 community members, including TUSD board members Jose Sanchez, Daniel Benedict, Anthony Silva, Superintendent Dana Trevethan, Assistant Superintendents Barney Gordon, Heidi Lawler and David Lattig.
At the expo, there were 10 interactive stations including Turlock Irrigation District educational trailer, AgLink, and California State University at Stanislaus. With the Farm 2 School grant, TUSD Child Nutrition has recently incorporated more grass-fed beef, free range chickens and locally sourced fruits and vegetables onto school menus. Over the summer and in the peak of the COVID-19 crisis, TUSD farm was able to produce over 2,000 pounds of apricots, peaches, plums and pluots that were utilized in curbside student meals.
“This helped alleviate some of the food crisis impact delays from vendors who were short staffed and did not have drivers to deliver fresh fruits to TUSD,” said Lew-Vang. “Hali Bream, coordinator of TUSD Farm, and I collaborate frequently to discuss ways to improve department partnerships and better serve TUSD students and community.”
Students had recently completed the winter harvest that included Swiss chard, carrots, radishes and kale. Now that spring is here the farm is welcoming livestock back to the district. Currently they have seven steers and plan to add their market goats, sheep and swine in the coming months.