Kinsman farm delivers fresh produce to Badger schools - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Kinsman farm delivers fresh produce to Badger schools

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KINSMAN, Ohio -

We all have a certain image in our heads about what a school lunch looks like and it's about as far away from a farm as you can get. 

But a partnership between Badger Schools and Red Basket Farm in Kinsman is changing that perception.

For years, Red Basket Farm's been on a mission to get fresh, local produce to as many people as possible.

"We love what we do and it has become a lifestyle. It is who we are. It is what we're passionate about," said Amy Davis.

At first, they were selling to restaurants, mostly up in Cleveland, but for the last several years they've added schools to the list of customers, including Badger right next door.

"We just started getting our greens, at first, for our salads, and then it went on to apples and cantaloupe, cucumbers, peppers, and everything," said Carol Johnson, Food Service Director for Badger Schools.

It's called the Farm to School Program and it seems like it gets a little bigger every year, both in terms of production and meaning.

"It's not just raising and selling produce," said Floyd Davis. "It's all about getting fresh, local, nutritious product back into the schools."

Now, obviously, we live in Ohio and the growing season around here is what it is. That's why they have seven different greenhouses on the property, making sure schools like Badger get at least something year-round.

"We've learned over the years what we can grow during the winter because when we do it, we actually do it without heat and without supplemental light," said Floyd Davis. "So through experimentation and through trial and error, we've found that there are several different varieties of things that we can grow during the winter that can handle a freeze-thaw cycle."

There's also a lot of planning involved, timing everything just right for the school year.

"We delay some of the plantings of say like cantaloupe and watermelon, so we have a lot of them come ready into about mid-September," said Davis.

In other words, just in time for school lunches.

The program goes beyond just the cafeteria, though. They're trying to change students' entire outlooks on healthy eating.

"Our middle school takes a field trip there every year, so they'll visit the farm and see his operation," said Johnson.

"We teach them what they're eating. We have them taste things and they're amazed at how things grow and how fresh things taste. And then we say, 'Well this is what we're taking up to you.' When you look at the salad bar, this is what we're doing," said Amy Davis.

Right now, they have five schools and one university taking part in the program. They also keep getting more and more restaurants in our area, looking for fresh ingredients as well. 

To learn more about the programs or the farm, you can check out the Red Basket Farm website.

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