IDEA Public Schools celebrates Farmworker Awareness Week

This week, IDEA Public Schools proudly celebrates Farmworker Awareness Week, which is aimed towards honoring the daily contributions every farm worker makes in the food cycle.  

Within our organization, 12 campuses across our various regions have farms that grow delicious and nutritious organic foods. These are then harvested and later served in IDEA’s cafeterias for our students. In partnership with the Healthy Kids Here initiative, our farms are dedicated towards educating our students about investing in their lifelong health and wellness. 

Elva Mendez, alongside her fellow farmer Murienne Nunes , are the dedicated farmers at our IDEA Eastside campus in San Antonio.

Mendez (left), Nunes (right),

As we arrived for a visit, the farm had wet grounds from the rainy night before. Rain was in the forecast for the day, which meant student visits to the farm had to be rescheduled. IDEA’s farmers must be adaptable and flexible, as unpredictable weather can be a deciding factor in their daily plans. 

For the past 18 months, Elva has flourished as a farmer at IDEA. Before joining the team, she knew she wanted a job where she could be outside, not glued to an office desk. She was not afraid of getting her hands dirty in the process, so she eagerly embraced the opportunity to become an Assistant Farmer when it presented itself. Not only would she be able to grow and harvest her own crops and manage a farm, but she could also teach students along the way. 

To start her day, Elva walks the grounds, picking up any trash that could’ve blown in and checking on her fields. From there, she goes over her schedule for the day and looks at what’s ahead. Most of the outdoor work, such as pulling out the weeds and watering, is done in the morning as it is easier to do before the sun comes in. While the farm grows a variety of foods, the main staples that are present year-round are lettuce, carrots, radishes, and beets.  

Some of our farms, including the one at IDEA Eastside, have what’s called a Leafy Green Machine (LGM). 

LGM pictured left

Within this hydroponic shipping container, a variety of exciting veggies can be grown for their campus. Vegetables such as lettuce, kale, and other herbs can be grown here and not be affected by the outside weather.

The farms not only provide the most delicious vegetables that are served in our cafeterias but make lesson plans come to life. Our farmers partner up with teachers to arrange outdoor classroom time at the farm, making any lesson plan interactive. Students in an art class can draw plants and math lessons can be taught with numbers generated by how many pounds of produce are grown in a week. 

The possibility on our farms is endless and we want to thank all our Child Nutrition Program farmers, as well as the CNP team members outside of our farms who prioritize student health across our regions.  

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