Georgia Organics’ Emily Cumbie Drake and Abbie King know that empowering teachers to deliver edible education is one of the most powerful ways to shape kids’ behavior and instill a love for local, fresh food. The dynamic duo embarked on a week-long tour across Georgia in February, collaborating with veteran STEM educator Jenna Mobley to teach Exploring Edible Education: A Farm to School Workshop for K-5 Educators to more than 90 teachers. Workshops were attended by 2015 Golden Radish Award district educators and held in Athens, Savannah, Cochran, and Atlanta.
Many wanted to integrate school gardens into their curricula. Several wanted to strengthen community ties with local farmers. Some wanted a better library with healthy eating and gardening books. And everybody wanted to get students excited about eating the healthy, delicious local menu options in the cafeteria.
During the workshop, educators participated in farm to school science, math, reading, and writing lessons, and brainstormed simple, yet crucial, next steps for building their programs.
The model lessons were connected to Georgia curriculum standards with an emphasis on easy preparation and utilizing easily accessible materials teachers are likely to have on hand.
An Atlanta teacher reflected, “I love the realistic ideas for the classroom. They are completely possible!”
Another was excited that these were “lessons that I can actually incorporate into my classroom.”
Educators recognized the importance of building support within the school building to increase buy-in for farm to school. Ideas for engaging the community ranged from building on existing activities, such as transforming an annual parent picnic day into a farm to school fundraiser in Athens, to getting a team together discuss how to start a school garden at a Bleckley County elementary school or simply starting a conversation with the person that started the school garden at an Atlanta school.
A Bleckley County School Nutrition staff member said she wanted to connect better with her school “to let teachers know that they can bring vegetables into the cafeteria so we can prepare them and add them to lunch.”
We can’t wait to see what else develops as participants return to their schools armed with new knowledge, resources and support.
To receive information on future workshop and educational opportunities that we will be hosting throughout 2016, sign up for our farm to school e-newsletter, the eBite, here, or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leaf it to Spinach is Georgia Organics’ statewide effort to get kids across Georgia eating, growing, and participating in spinach-themed activities during October Farm to School Month.