In this report, we explore ways to extend the season for locally grown fruits and vegetables by freezing it for use in K-12 schools. Such strategies not only connect schools with locally grown produce, but preserve the bounty of area farms and avoid on-farm losses of produce that might otherwise go unsold.
We explore the following avenues for freezing locally and regionally grown produce on a small-to-medium scale for the K-12 marketplace: schools freezing on-site in their own kitchen facilities; mobile freezing units; commercial kitchens and small freezing enterprises; and co-pack relationships with existing freezing companies that could potentially serve the K-12 market.
Our research draws insight from the first-hand experiences of a range of ventures around the country that are now exploring freezing strategies for fruits and vegetables grown in their region. While some of those ventures are aimed squarely at serving K-12 schools, others are seeking to process local farm products for other markets while providing fair prices to their farm partners. All shed light on the opportunities and challenges of modestly sized approaches for freezing produce.