Letter to the editor: ‘Farm Lab’ a waste of taxpayer dollars


There are lots of PR pieces out now about the “Farm Lab.” The recent description of the EUSD FarmLab program in the newspapers and local magazines, by EUSD Superintendent Timothy Baird and the Leichtag Foundation, is misleading and would be laughable if it wasn’t another example of public servants throwing away taxpayer dollars for pet projects destined to fail.

Not only is funding for the Farm Lab coming mostly out of Prop P funds, which was pitched to taxpayers as a necessary debt to cover technology and construction upgrades to aging schools — not to build a farm — but the food production claimed by EUSD and the Farm Director are outright false.

Much of the food they grew was grown at other sites or were started in a greenhouse and transplanted to the “farm.” This is theater, not agriculture. There’s not a farmer among them.

It costs approximately $30,000 per month just to hold on to the “Farm Lab.” In addition, the EUSD board and Baird have borrowed and spent over $1.5 million on the Farm Lab to date and plan to spend much more. Received a $10,000 grant? That only covers carrying costs for about 10 days. They would have to grow and sell 60,000 heads of lettuce every month all year long just to break even. Why are they giving away produce at the expense of students? Sustainable?

If our nine Encinitas elementary schools had fully funded libraries, art programs, science programs, physical education programs, music programs and a full staff of educators, then maybe?

Where in the language of Prop P does it say we can make this type of expenditure? What does this have to do with educating elementary school children? Do you really think the voters are on board with this? I guess we will see.

Want to see the Farm Lab, or “Food Forest,” as it was comically referred to? Drive by the chain-link-fenced lot on Quail Gardens Drive and have a look at what millions of your tax dollars buys.

-Bruce Stirling, Encinitas