One feature of the Farm to School (F2S) program is the purchase of food from local farms for cafeteria service. Florida's climate and year-round production provide opportunities to expand F2S. These conditions introduce exciting possibilities for small- and mid-sized farms.
That said, owners of small farms often face financial hurdles that larger producers do not. Farmer-owned cooperatives may help small- and mid-sized producers participate in F2S procurement.
A new EDIS publication, The Feasibility of Farmer-Led Cooperatives for Southwest Florida Farm to School Procurement, looks at the viability of such a cooperative in Sarasota County. The authors walk the reader through the study and provide insight into personnel and capital costs, locations, infrastructure, equipment, and necessary employee skills.