Staff Report

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam recently announced that Broward County Public Schools is serving more than 40,000 pounds of Florida-grown strawberries to their students over a two week period. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Farm to School program facilitated the purchase from Sweet Life Farms in Plant City, Fla., which is owned and operated by Mark McDonald.

“By connecting Florida growers with nearby schools, we are teaching students that the nutrition they need to succeed in the classroom is grown right here in their backyards,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam. “I applaud Broward County Schools for their participation in the Farm to School program.”

The McDonald family has farmed berries and vegetables for more than four decades in Plant City, which is known as the “Winter Strawberry Capital of the World.” Sweet Life Farms adopted a “back to basics” approach to focus on high-quality repeat business. The family-owned farm produces blueberries, cantaloupes, mixed vegetables, strawberries and watermelons. In 2013, Sweet Life Farms received the Harvest Award.

The Farm to School program connects K12 schools with Florida farmers and growers to provide locally grown produce to students during school meals. Since 2015, the Farm to School program has facilitated the purchase of more than 590,000 pounds of fresh, seasonal produce to Florida schools through opportunity buys.

The Farm to School program positively impacts local economies, reduces transportation costs and helps preserve farms and farmland. Producers interested in providing fresh fruit and vegetables to local schools should contact Beth Spratt at 850617-7419 or

For more information about the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit