Jones Potato Farm is one of many farm enterprises in Florida that reach deep into the community to help bring awareness to agriculture.
Leslie and Alan Jones began working with Sarasota County Schools to bring their farm fresh produce into the school lunchroom in the early 2000’s.
“We supply about 15,000 pounds of potatoes each year to county schools,” said Leslie Jones. “We are so happy with the partnership we have with Sarasota,” added Jones. “They are extremely proactive and passionate about what they do.”
That passion stems from Beverly Girard, director of food & nutrition services at Sarasota County Schools. Her persistence and love for agriculture steered her to take advantage of the fresh fruits and vegetables that were abundant in the surrounding counties. “Our schools have always had an emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Girard, “but we needed to concentrate on what was grown locally in Florida and support the local economy.”
So Girard began working on how to streamline the delivery of local veggies into the school cafeterias. She submitted a produce distributor bid so that surrounding farmers had one point of contact for getting their product to the school. The distributor travels directly to the farm and delivers the produce to the schools.
In addition to supplying fresh potatoes, Jones Potato Farm provides seeds to more than 20 schools so that students can watch their own spud grow in school gardens and learn about the entire growing process.
“Our children are the foundation for the future,” said Jones. “If we can get children interested and excited about learning where their food comes from, the more they will want to advocate for agriculture.”