ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s no easy feat to feed thousands of kids in Albuquerque, and for years, Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) has turned to local farms for help.
From farm to table: The initiative has earned the district an award from the New Mexico Grown Coalition for supporting the farming economy here in the state.
North Valley Organics is one of those farms and has been helping APS fill the need for fresh produce for the past eight years.
“Years ago, when we started, we would send APS just a few cases of just cherry tomatoes with cucumbers. I think, last year, we sent about 6,000 pounds their way,” said Matthew Draper, a farm manager with North Valley Organic.
The farm is now producing so much food for APS, its original one acre is no longer enough.
It recently expanded to four acres, where the farm is harvesting mixed vegetables, and the goal is to expand even more. They have also expanded to serving other schools in Raton, Belen, and Los Lunas.
Sandra Kemp, the APS executive director for food and nutrition, said not only does this collaboration boost business for farms like North Organic but also helps students learn where their food comes from.
“[It will] give an opportunity for our students to understand the difference between locally produced fresh out the farm type produce rather than necessarily bought out the store that has been off the trees for a longer period of time or the vine for a longer period of time,” said Kemp.
So far this year, APS has purchased over 18,000 pounds of fruit and over 1,000 pints of cherry tomatoes among other products.
They said, even though that’s a lot, it’s not quite enough. They still end up making up the difference with produce grown out of state.
Kemp said the district is committed to its relationship with the local growers.