Massachusetts Food System Collaborative
Massachusetts Food System Collaborative

July 6, 2021

FSIG Grantee: Brockton Public Schools

Brockton Public Schools has 16,000 students, 4,000 of them at the high school. As part of a local collaborative that included members of the community, the city’s farmers market manager, school teachers, and administrators, they applied for an FSIG grant to purchase a Freight Farm and were awarded $118,000 to do so. Freight Farms are indoor hydroponic farms built inside recycled shipping containers and rely on LED lighting to grow their crops, usually varieties of leafy greens.

After purchasing the unit, the school district has become a SNAP retailer, which will allow them to sell some of the produce they grow directly to families through a farm stand at the high school and a booth at the farmers market. They also plan to sell wholesale to Vicentes, a local grocery store. Vicentes and Brockton Farmers Market have also partnered with the school to offer summer internships for high school students, funded by the Massachusetts Youthworks program, a state-funded youth employment program that helps teens and young adults get the skills and experience needed to find and keep jobs. Participants take part in paid short-term work placements during the summer and the school year at public, private and nonprofit worksites. The students will be starting their internships this summer, and hopefully will be harvesting by September to sell at the market.

The project’s goal is to address food insecurity across the greater Brockton area, including the students, their families, and other area residents. They plan on donating 5-10% of the food produced to hunger relief programs through the Brockton area hunger network. This project has been under consideration for a few years, but couldn’t have been done without FSIG, and will have multiple benefits. The farm is intended to be an instructional tool at the high school for their horticultural and science classes, as well as their cutting edge biotech program. It will also be a regional educational source for lessons on healthy eating, and they will offer tours to interested residents.

The school district hasn’t determined what they’re going to grow yet, but know that growing culturally relevant greens and herbs is very important to the community. The vendor they are buying the unit from has given them credit to buy seedlings, nutrients, and training for a few staff. 

Brockton Public Schools would eventually like to have a Freight Farm at each middle school in the district, enabling them to feed more families and provide students with lessons and inspiration to become food scientists and farmers.


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