Thank You Farmers! A Region-by-Region Look at our IDEA Farms

Did you know that many of the delicious produce items served in our cafeterias come directly from our IDEA Child Nutrition Program (CNP) Farms? That’s right! To help build, grow, and maintain these farms, it takes a dedicated and passionate team. Today, we would love to recognize those farmers who help promote healthy eating for our Child Nutritional Program.

On this National Farmer’s Day, we want to give a huge shoutout to all our CNP Farmer’s. Their work contributes greatly to 133 of our schools across IDEA’s regions named among the top schools nationwide to be recognized by the Alliance for a Heathier Generation 2023 list of “America’s Healthiest Schools”. Farmers, we thank you! 

Meet Deborah Ray, the CNP Director of Farms at IDEA. Ray and her team maintain 12 farms across Texas and Louisiana.

“Nutrition education and STEM education are the two specialties,” Ray explained. “The goal of the farms and the produce we grow is to get students to try new foods, get them more familiar with fresh fruits and vegetables, so they will eat more produce in the cafeterias, at home, and throughout their lives.” 

Let’s have a region-by-region look at how the farms are doing this school year and see what’s growing!

Tarrant County 

Last month, IDEA Achieve celebrated the ribbon cutting of their new hydroponic farm with the help of Farmer Valerie Reed and Assistant Farmer Maria Medina. This freight farm serves as a wonderful place to grow and house a wide variety of fresh lettuce and other green leafed vegetables 

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Rio Grande Valley 

IDEA Elsa had their Kindergarten through 2nd grade students take their science classes in action. Students were able to hear from Farmers Jordan Roney and Taylor Snowden at their campus farm about the plant life cycle and identifying plant parts.  

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San Antonio 

IDEA Eastside students work on maintaining their farms and enjoy class outside with Farmer Javier Garza and Assistant Farmer Elva Mendez.  

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Things are getting HOT at IDEA Runberg as students pose with their freshly rinsed banana peppers with Farmer Carlos Jimenez Hernandez.  

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El Paso

IDEA Horizon Vista’s farm was loaded this past month with students growing a wide variety of foods such as pumpkin, squash, watermelon, and green bell peppers with the leadership of Farmer Thomas Hernandez.

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Aren’t these the cutest watermelons you’ve ever seen? Two students from IDEA Bridge show off watermelons from the farm with Farmer Danesha Shepherd.  

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IDEA’s Farm Program uses the Junior Master Gardener Program to teach students about plant growth and development, soil science, hydrology, and many more STEM related topics. In the 2023-24 school year, Ray and her staff hope to increase staffing at the farms, filling infrastructure gaps at the current farms, and expanding education access.

“We want to try and engage as many different grade levels as possible on every farm campus,” Ray shared.  

To learn more about our CNP Farm Program, visit our Farms page here

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