IDEA Eastside uses school farm to grow food for cafeteria, teach respect for agriculture

12 IDEA Public Schools throughout Texas and Louisiana have a Farm Program on campus

Ever since IDEA Public Schools got its start in 1998, the focus has been not only on students’ education but also their health.

IDEA offers an opportunity for its students to learn about farming through its Farm Program.

Twelve of IDEA’s locations have a farm on campus. There are three farms in San Antonio, two in El Paso, four in the Rio Grande Valley, one in Austin, one in Dallas and one in Louisiana. The Farm Program helps feed students year-round.

“We’re growing food for the cafeteria. It helps ensure that we have the healthiest meals and subsidizes cost,” said Javier Garza, Child Nutrition Program Farmer at IDEA Eastside.

IDEA Eastside has a traditional farm and they also have something called a hydroponic farm.

“We’re farming without soil. Everything is done with just water and nutrients and it’s a very contained and highly efficient system,” Garza said.

Officials at IDEA Eastside took a shipping container and converted it into an indoor farm. Leafy green vegetables are grown in columns that are exposed to LED lights and purified water.

“It has LED lights and you get to see the process of it growing,” said Kayla.

At IDEA Eastside, 8th-grade students get the opportunity to work in both the outdoor and hydroponic farms.

They get to grow a variety of fruits and vegetables including tomatoes, lettuce, watermelon, cantaloupe, squash and much more.

“It’s amazing. I’m able to be outside instead of indoors,” said Kayla, an 8th grader at IDEA Eastside.

According to officials at IDEA Public Schools, in the 2022-2023 school years, all IDEA farms supplied over 85,000 student meals and facilitated over 14,000 on-farm education hours.

About the Author

Halee Powers is a KSAT producer primarily focused on digital newscasts and events.

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