We always love to see a farm connect with a local school system, so when the Little Farm in Gray posted a photo of school nutrition workers smiling with an order of pumpkins and radishes, we needed to know more!
So we hollered at the Little Farm’s Amy Bean, who said they grew over 231 pounds of radishes and over 558 pounds of pumpkin for the Peach County School System. The seeds for this sale, literally and figuratively, were planted when farmer Rusty Bean met with Community Healthworks’ Maggie McCune. Take it away, Maggie!
Community Health Works (CHW) is a non-profit organization that was awarded a USDA Farm to School Grant to benefit the Peach County School District. Over the last several years, CHW has been working to lower the risk of obesity and related chronic diseases through multiple food access initiatives and nutrition education. With Georgia’s high rates of childhood obesity, we have begun to see more children experience health consequences related to obesity including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes. CHW saw an opportunity with Farm to School to combat childhood obesity in our community by partnering with Peach County Schools to offer significantly more fresh, locally-grown foods and provide supplemental nutrition education to help students make healthier food choices.
CHW and the Peach County School System have a goal of one local item on the menu each month, and McCune has been hard at work area farmers like the Beans to the schools. (They also provide technical instruction to school nutrition staff.)
Amy echoed what we hear from farmers all over the state: she and her husband want folks in their community to have access to healthy, local produce, especially in schools.
“We like the fact they want naturally grown vegetables and are willing to sell at a discount to insure that our schools get a quality product from our farm,” Amy said. With some help from volunteers from Mercer University, the Beans washed the pumpkins, and they also washed and trimmed the radishes, but beyond that processing was handled by Peach County school nutrition staff. The farm also handled delivery.
And that’s the story of how pumpkins from the Little Farm turned into pumpkin muffins for a special Thanksgiving dinner for Peach County students and teachers, and how crunchy local radishes ended up in salads. (Amy, who is a terrific chef, mentioned roasting the radishes, and said the chefs at the school were intrigued by that idea!)