One of the most challenging aspects of starting a Farm to School program can be finding the right farmer for your program needs. The size of a school or classroom, as well as the type of Farm to School program, makes a big difference in terms of which farmers might be a good fit. To help facilitate this process, the LA Farm to School Network has identified local farmers from the greater Los Angeles region who are interested in hosting field trips, visiting classrooms, or selling produce to schools (for cafeterias or taste test activities). By selecting the type of Farm to School service you’re looking for, this find-a-farmer search tool identifies farmers who can accommodate your program needs and help to get your program off the ground.
What type of Farm to School service(s) are you interested in?
This is when a farmer visits a school classroom or afterschool program to teach students about how they grow food. These visits frequently include a taste test of seasonal produce items from the farm.
Farm to School field trips are when a class goes to visit a regional farm, urban garden, or farmers’ market to learn how food is produced and gain a better understanding of the local food system.
Farm to School procurement is when a school district (or other program operator) purchases food from a local producer to serve in cafeteria meals, snacks, or taste tests.
What type(s) of products are you interested in?
* please note – at this time, all of the farmers in our network grow fruits and vegetables, but in the future we may expand to other types of producers.
What size order do you need
Remember, all of the size categories listed below are approximations to connect you to appropriate farmers. Exact amounts may vary depending on the product you’re looking for or other factors.
A “small” order is approximately the amount of USDA’s “micro-purchase” classification (under $3,500/ order. This order size ranges from an amount that could be purchased at a farmers’ market or grocery store (i.e. for a school snack, taste test, or in-home childcare lunch), to a quantity that would be sufficient for a single school or small district to use as a highlighted item in a special program, such as a “farm-to-school salad bar” or part of a “CA Thursdays” menu.
Guidelines for Small Orders:
Under $3,500 per order
If using USDA micro-purchase designation:
Orders from a single vendor must not exceed $150,000 annually
It is required to “distribute micro-purchases equitably among qualified suppliers.”
A “medium” order roughly corresponds the USDA’s classification of an “informal bid” (under $150,000 annually per vendor). This order size is a good option for school districts interested in supporting small to midsized regional farms (that don’t have the capacity to compete against larger players in a formal bid). Medium orders can range from regular ongoing purchases for a small district to a one-time order for a large district (i.e. for a special event). When you talk to farmers, make sure to discuss your expectations for volume and order frequency. At this scale, orders will often need to go through a distributor or food hub rather an individual farmer.
Guidelines for Medium Orders:
$3,500- $150,000 per order, for example:
Over $3,500 (weekly)
Under $15,000 (monthly)
Under $150,000 (annually)
If using USDA’s informal bid process, must get price quotes from a minimum of 3 bidders
A “large” order corresponds to a “formal bid,” according to USDA’s classification. This is an order of over $150,000 annually per vendor. This option is the best fit for school districts that are ready to fully incorporate Farm to School into their regular purchasing. Buying at this volume on a regular schedule requires working with larger farms, distributors, or food hubs.
Guidelines for Large Orders:
Over $150,000 annually, for example:
Over $4,000 (weekly)
Over $15,000 (monthly)
Must follow procedures for USDA’s formal bid process