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Veggie Express delivers fresh produce, lesson
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Manteca Unified ag students show off some of the produce at the MUSD school farm picked last Tuesday. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT
Ag students of the Manteca Unified School District are experiencing the business side of life on the farm.

Thanks to the Veggie Express, they’re earning money while working on the school farm.

Thus far, students have produced a cornucopia of fresh goods, including baby bok choy, parsley, chives, carrots, cilantro, potatoes, spinach and several varieties of lettuce.

There’s still more to come.

The crops were planted in January, with students doing everything from operating the tractor to fertilizing and irrigating.

“This was our first harvest,” instructor and program coordinator Ryan Costa said last Tuesday.

He knows what it takes to make a living in agriculture. Costa was raised and continues to work on his family farm.

“This is as close as it gets to the real thing (for these kids),” he added.

The 12 students involved in the Veggie Express program had to take out a loan through the school district in order to pay upfront the cost of running the five acres of produce grown on the school farm.

The Veggie Express is a student-based subscription service, providing locally grown produce at a low monthly rate of $45.

In turn, subscribers – included is the MUSD Nutrition Services – can count on getting fresh, tasty, and wholesome vegetables.

Costa indicated that Veggie Express, which is a business working in cooperation with the district and the Manteca Unified Student Trust foundation, currently has 80 subscribers with about 20 spots still available (those interested in this service can log on to for more information).

The hope here is for the program to operate on a year-round basis.

“In the summer, we should have our basil, zucchini, watermelon, squash and sweet corn ready for harvest,” Costa said.

He estimates that each student can earn between $300 to $400 once the Veggie Express is up and running.