“Be Wise Ranch”* is an organic farm in San Diego that runs a CSA program (community supported agriculture.) In a CSA, members buy boxes of produce, often organic, directly from a farm on a regular basis.** For a couple years I have been a member of “Be Wise”, and our little Julian group takes turns in picking up all the boxes once every two weeks and then delivering them to the other members.
Today I called and asked if, in conjunction with our regular pick-up, the ranch would be willing to donate an extra box of produce to our emerging Farm to School program.
Within minutes, they wrote back and said “absolutely.”
Let me list the ways in which this is a very cool development for our F2S efforts.
- I can use produce in my Farm to School lessons, as in the citrus class I recently held. Financing these lessons is a challenge, but now we will have a regular donation of organic food to use. It’s a great start.
- Garden Ambassadors love doing taste tests! I can imagine receiving our box, and then working with them during lunch and recess to either cook with it or prep it raw. Every month we will have a wide variety of fruits and vegetables to introduce to the children in small bites. For example, this week’s box includes bok choy, cauliflower, carrots, collard greens, grapefruit, kale, romanesco, lemons, lettuce, blood oranges, tangelos, radishes and strawberries.
- All of the food is already sourced locally and certified organic.
- Working with Be Wise helps us get the produce efficiently. Our rural isolation is proving to be one of the biggest challenges in implementing F2S programs, and so it’s a relief to use an “existing channel of distribution” (i.e. our group already picks up regularly “down the hill.”)
- Even though we will continue to use our garden produce for classes and taste tests, there are many things we will never be able to grow at our altitude that we can still introduce to the kids through the Be Wise produce.
- We have a short growing season, and donated produce means we can keep the flow of fruits and vegetables coming even when our own growing space looks like this:
*For more information on Be Wise Ranch, please visit http://www.bewiseranch.com
**For more information on CSA’s, see http://www.bewiseranch.com/csa.htm