Encinitas school farm program earns organic certification

North Coast Current

The Encinitas Union School District’s educational farms have marked a milestone with certification by the California Certified Organic Farmers group, the district announced Sept. 15.

EUSD is the first district in the country to grow food for a school lunch program on district-owned certified organic farms, according to the statement. Organic certification is a rigorous process that ensures the integrity of soil health and crop management, and confirms best growing practices.

Ocean Knoll Farm, a 1-acre site at Ocean Knoll Elementary School, received organic certification in August, the district stated.

“EUSD leadership knows that healthy students are more successful students, and that serving organic food at school is a direct investment in the health of our children and our planet,” district Farm Lab Director Mim Michelove said in the announcement.

The district — which serves about 5,400 students in kindergarten through sixth grade at nine campuses — has two educational farms that offer outdoor learning opportunities and grow food for the school lunch program. The largest is Farm Lab, a nearly 10-acre site on Quail Gardens Drive in Encinitas that includes a satellite DREAMS campus (Design thinking, Research, Engineering, Art, Math and Science).

District farm fields have produced:

  • 200 heads of organic lettuce per week, supplied to district food services.
  • More than 2,500 pounds of Farm Lab heirloom watermelon for the start of the school year.
  • More than 3,000 pounds of Farm Lab tomatoes and peppers, which were roasted and frozen for pizza and marinara sauce.

Celery, snap peas, cucumber and carrots will be in rotation this year, the district stated.

“… Being certified organic not only supports EUSD’s overall effort to provide healthy produce for our students, it could also facilitate the sharing of healthy food with our community,” Michelove said in the district’s statement. “Local grocers, including Jimbo’s Naturally, have shown interest in potential partnerships as well.”