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Rio Grande Community Farm Delivers Local Produce to APS

State Senator Dede Feldman joins members of RGCF as they celebrate the delivery of local tomatoes to APS.

Last week 5 flats of tomatoes were delivered to the Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) Central Kitchen loading dock. Now this may not sound like groundbreaking news, given that APS is the largest food provider in the State of New Mexico, but there was something very special about this tomato delivery. These tomatoes were grown in Albuquerque's North Valley and will be served in a cluster of APS schools within that same region, making a truly local connection between our farms and school lunch tables.

This groundbreaking delivery, the first of many more to come this school year, is part of a year-long contract between Rio Grande Community Farm (RGCF) and APS. This year RGCF, which farms a portion of Los Poblanos Fields Open Space through an innovative partnership with the Albuquerque Open Space Division, bid on the contract to be a local produce provider to APS. Now students in that cluster will be receiving beans, peas, lettuce, peppers, cabbage, and other fresh vegetables grown in their own neighborhood.

The Valley Cluster Project, as it is called, is a pilot program that serves as an example for integrating local produce into local school lunches. The initiative began years ago, with a push for legislative funding from Dede Feldman, State Senator for District 13, and the efforts of many others, including Farm to Table. Two years ago, APS received recurring local food funding for a cluster of schools in the North Valley, and produce from around New Mexico was served.

This year, some of that produce is coming from even closer to home, traveling fewer miles from field to plate. Le Adams, Co-Director of Farm to Table and director of the New Mexico Farm to School Program, was very excited about this very local tomato delivery, "For the Valley Cluster Project, we spent all of last school year getting farm products from places that are so much farther distant from the North Valley. These wonderful tomatoes from the Rio Grande Community Farm came to the APS loading dock just picked from next door," she stated.

Locally grown foods are fresher, higher in nutrients, and simply better tasting, providing students with a higher quality product and sparking their interest in eating more fresh fruits and vegetables. Serving local produce from neighborhood farms also connects students with local agriculture, and the purchase of these local products helps to keep our local agricultural lands in production. Locally grown foods for our local growing kids- now that is something to celebrate!




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