The Manteca Unified School District Farm
The school farm is both a working small farm which supplies a significant portion of produce served in school cafeterias and a direct extension of the classroom where students may learn and apply concepts taught in the classroom. The focus of the agriculture program at Manteca Unified is to follow the agriculture education model that portrays the importance of the three core areas of classroom/laboratory instruction, supervised agricultural experience programs, and FFA student organization activities/opportunities. Agriculture education prepares students for successful careers and a lifetime of informed choices in the global agriculture food, fiber, and natural resource systems.
Patty Page, Director of Nutrition Education at Manteca USD, takes the notion of Farm to School to a whole new INNOVATIVE level. Outside of her office window is the school district's farm where she buys fresh produce for her nutrition program that is farmed and harvested by the students. Farm fresh specialties include peas, arugula, mustard greens, kale, radishes, chard, lettuce, broccoli, turnips, beets, spinach, green onions, cauliflower, jalapenos, honeydew, tomatoes, bell peppers, basil, and watermelons. Beaming, Patty says We've harvested and served some of the sweetest watermelons you have ever tasted.
The be.fresh program is a complete farming activity that supports the Nutrition Education Department by supplementing school served menus. It actively maintains five irrigated acres plus a large greenhouse at the District Office complex. Students are hired for all phases of farm production. The program started in 2010 under the name Veggie Express. Various garden crops were grown and included in school menus throughout the year. The harvest was also sold to subscribers, employees at the School District Offices and their families, who received regular shares of fresh produce.