From “DREAMS” to Food Forest: Farm-to-Table Program Yields Big Results for Local Schools

Farm to table is reaching our local schools, promoting healthy nutrition and reducing our carbon footprint. The Encinitas Union School District (EUSD) is playing a major role in the movement with its Farm Lab – a 10-acre organic working farm in North County Coastal that grows fresh fruit and vegetables for the district’s nine campuses.

The Farm Lab not only provides food for the school lunch program, but also serves as a living classroom that teaches the 5,400 students who visit the farm for full-day, hands-on, evidence-based science lessons. The curriculum follows a DREAMS (Design, Research, Engineering, Art, Math, and Science) model, where students focus on nutrition, ecology, art and earth science as it all occurs on a working organic farm.

SDG&E employees cultivate school lunches

On Saturday, hundreds of SDG&E employees and their families dug their hands in organic soil to plant fruit trees, built raised vegetable beds, and installed irrigation to help further cultivate the Farm Lab’s “food forest” that gives all community members access to fresh produce, provides for school lunches and helps to protect the planet. Volunteers also painted sheds, made signs and beautified the fence on the site.

Raising kids’ food IQ

The Farm Lab, designed as both an agricultural and educational tool, is among the largest operations of its kind in the nation and the first certified organic farm owned by a school district.

Local and organic farming plays a crucial role in balancing our ecosystem and conserving biodiversity. Avoiding the use of synthetic fertilizers helps improve water quality, preserve our wetlands and wildlife, and clean the air we breathe. And growing local produce significantly cuts back on the high greenhouse gas emissions that results from global food transportation.

The community “food forest” that surrounds the Farm Lab is home to a canopy of low-water fruit trees and raised vegetable beds containing beans, kale, squash, tomatoes and other vegetables. Once the produce is harvested, it’s taken to the school district’s central kitchen less than three miles away and prepared for school lunches. Food harvested in the summer months when school is out of session is roasted and frozen and later turned into healthy, made-from-scratch sauces and meals. Excess produce is also donated to those in underserved communities.

Growing heathier communities for a better future

Through our Environmental Champions initiative, SDG&E is proud to support EUSD’s Farm Lab, which is not only changing the way we look at food, but also helping us protect Mother Nature. Our hope is that through educating students on the benefits of nutritional and environmental best practices, they will protect their health and the health of the planet. 

Click here to learn more about how we’re working to build healthier communities.