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Fresh yellow, red, and orange peppers at the farmers market.

Farmer-Led Cooperatives and Farm to School Procurement

School cafeteria to promote the My Plate and YUM nutrition programs.

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.

For more publications on Farm to School, visit the EDIS website.