With all Encinitas Union School District schools being closed, the greens that had been grown at the Farm Lab for their farm-to-school program are being diverted directly to local families in need.
The Farm Lab harvests twice weekly so on those days their certified organic greens will be harvested, washed, and individually bagged for a safe handout later that morning, said Julie Burton, coordinator of innovation for the Farm Lab. Harvest is led by farmer Cathryn Henning and Farm Lab teaching staff who have volunteered to come support the project the first few weeks to harvest and bag produce.
The Encinitas Union School District’s free lunch giveaway program is hosted at Ocean Knoll Elementary and, on harvest days, the freshly bagged produce is delivered by late morning and distributed to families that come to pick up free lunch.
“The 40 bags of greens went quickly yesterday, so this Friday we are going to provide 60 bags,” said Burton on March 25. “Each bag contained a fresh head of romaine, and large bundles of kale and chard.”
The bags also included a message written in English and Spanish: “Please enjoy these fresh organic greens; they were harvested and bagged with love.”
The Farm Lab will continue to share the harvest directly with families in need on Tuesdays and Fridays until it is once again needed in the district’s central kitchen for school salad bars and scratch-made lunch items. As time goes on, they will have additional offerings as smaller batches of varied crops are ready for harvest, “We can’t wait for the strawberries!” Burton said.