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Encinitas School District Could Use Working Farm As Classroom

Aired 9/21/11 on KPBS News.

Encinitas school kids could start getting lessons on a working farm this year; a proposal to turn unused land into an outdoor education center is moving forward.

A proposal to turn 10 acres of unused Encinitas Union School District property into a working farm and outdoor education center is moving forward after about a year of work.

District trustees will vote on a short-term lease for the parcel at their next meeting. If approved, a Vista-based organic farmer would plant most of the land and the district would apply to move temporary classrooms onto the site.

Some produce from the farm would become part of school district meals and the rest would be sold to the community, with the district getting a cut of the proceeds.

“Ultimately, I think this is an idea that other districts may incorporate into their use of unused facility space because it’s got a lot of wins in it for the community and the district,” said Timothy Baird, Encinitas Union superintendent.

The district has owned the land for about 10 years, and would have to start paying about $60,000 a year in nonuse fees if the lot isn’t developed, according to Baird.

The project would begin as a one-year deal with Murray Farms, but the district sees long-term potential learning benefits if all goes well.

“We think there are some amazing opportunities here,” Baird said. "We’ve talked about having some higher tech science labs in place here for students to do some work that we could do centrally that we couldn’t do at all nine of our campuses.”

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