Nine students are at the Farm to School to Work Hub every day from 9:00 am until 3:00 pm (depending on the buses). Between 20 and 25 additional students visit us four to five mornings each week, as community based training participants, to help with the garden and other chores while learning how their particular gifts and skills can be put to good work.

Those 30 students and the work they do reaches way into the school district and the community. This year 25 schools are receiving produce from both the Hub and from local farms, most of which is received and packaged at the Hub. Approximately 18,500 students regularly see local produce on their lunch lines.

Over 100 students and their teachers and chaperones visited the Hub on school garden field trips where students joined in garden chores, learning about seeds, plant parts, compost and decomposition – followed by a nutrition lesson and a fresh-from-the-garden snack.

Twenty teachers learned how to grow a successful school garden and are right now recording harvests for lunchrooms in 15 schools, where 8,340 students are being offered dishes featuring vegetables grown right in their schoolyard.

Finally, close to 300 community members visited the Hub in April for the Open House where they learned about garden design, beekeeping, and composting and enjoyed a lunch made by a school program in Jacksonville – Berry Good Farms –  that helped mentor us as we began to grow our program.

There is so much to be learned from a healthy, local food system – and a lot to be learned, too, about how to grow one. Working with students to create a learning environment where questions can be explored and good work accomplished is the epitome of “hands-on education.” We all grow in that environment.