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Yuba City Unified wants a district farm to sustain all of its schools

Here's how Yuba City Unified is bringing farms to schools
Here's how Yuba City Unified is bringing farms to schools 02:30

YUBA Cuty — In an area that spearheads farm-to-fork, the Yuba City Unified School District is joining the effort to bring farms to schools.

Yuba City Unified is working toward creating a district farm to sustain all the schools in the area. They've already started implementing some school gardens and are seeing success.

"It was really neat how the atmosphere changed as our salad bar slowly converted from being store-bought food to food that was gardened that they planted and grew because, as they noticed it, they were taking more and more salad," said Jacob Natalia, manager of the Barry Elementary School cafeteria.

Patricia Gooden says her granddaughter and pre-K student, Kianje, has even started gardening at home and has become more interested in eating healthier.

"She's always reminding me 'Granny, that's not healthy,' " Gooden said. "I love it because of everything she's learning here."

"We've got corn, tomatoes, some squash, and there's onions and bell peppers growing that look really good," said Chelsey Slattery, Yuba City Unified's director of nutrition services. "They're about ready to be harvested. One of the components of the garden is to show measurable success with it, so what we do is measure in pounds every time we harvest."

Barry Elementary's garden has produced nearly 500 pounds of food so far just this school year.

"They were hesitant at first. They didn't want to put a seed in the ground. They didn't want to get their hands dirty," Natalia said. "When they saw it come to fruition—and to actually see the food and get to eat it—they just lit up."

Natalia said he has seen firsthand how this is impacting the kids in a positive way and that through the garden, they're learning math, science and history.

"For us, it's just really getting students excited about school food," Slattery said. "There's always been kind of a stigma around school food and not wanting to eat in the cafeteria, and our goal is to have 100% meal participation."

Part of that goal involves working their way up toward that district-wide farm.

"We're looking to grow on district land, so we would like to work with the district to identify a piece of property and probably start out more small scale," Slattery said. "We're looking at the possibility of growing wheat."

Slattery is presenting the latest measurable success to the school board at a meeting Tuesday evening to talk about plans for the next phase.

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