The Daily Dirt

53 Georgia School Districts Honored For Farm to School Success

ATLANTA, October 24, 2016—Georgia Departments of Agriculture, Public Health, Education and Georgia Organics came together under the prestigious Gold Dome for the annual Golden Radish Awards to celebrate incredible gains made in the farm to school movement. 53 school districts—nearly one-third of all public school district in Georgia and reaching over 1 million students—are now participating in farm to school programs and recognized through the Golden Radish Awards.

group-photo-golden-radish-2016The Golden Radish Award publicly recognizes school districts for all aspects of farm to school, from local food procurement to hosting taste tests to gardening with students, and is awarded at Gold, Silver, Bronze, and Honorary Levels.  Districts were evaluated on their work in ten different activities of farm to school.

Some of that extraordinary work includes Dougherty County School System training students to harvest, wash, and prep product from their teaching gardens for taste tests and to serve in the cafeteria, Elbert County School District featuring local strawberries on the lunch line from a farm 20 miles away, and Dade County Schools utilizing experiential nutrition and garden-based education to teach Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) standards.

“It is incredible to see the growth of farm to school programs in the last few years,” stated Alice Rolls, Georgia Organics Executive Director.  “Every day, children across our state are getting the opportunity to grow and taste Georgia food in school. I’m excited to see Georgia’s schools invest in Georgia farmers and in our children at the same time.”

Districts of all sizes are utilizing farm to school programs to teach academic standards in school gardens, support the local economy through local food purchases for school meals, and fight childhood obesity and other preventable, food-related diseases.

“Our ultimate goal here at the department is for communities to take ownership of their school cafeterias, similarly to how we all push for excellence in the classroom, the arts and athletics,” said Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary W. Black. “We are proud to have so many Georgia Grown Feed My School participants recognized here today and are excited as to what current and future Golden Radish Award winners will accomplish as we work toward our 2020 Vision for School Nutrition in Georgia.”

State Superintendent Richard Woods agreed with Commissioner Black, emphasizing the benefits of connecting education to Georgia’s largest industry.  “Having access to fresh, farm to school meals is great for Georgia’s students,” said Woods. “Farm to school programs also connect students with agriculture, which is an enormously important industry for our state. We appreciate the Golden Radish Award because it recognizes those school districts that are striving every day to provide more farm to school meals.”

To top it off, Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health, noted the combined educational and long-term health benefits of farm to school.  “Farm to school teaches our children the importance of food that helps bodies grow healthy and strong and food that promotes learning,” said Fitzgerald. “When children learn as early as possible where their food comes from, they are more likely to eat fresh, nutritious foods that will sustain healthy choices that spread to families and communities.”

During the 2015-2016 school year, school districts collectively:

  • Served 39 million school meals that included local food
  • Held 8,246 taste tests of fresh, local food to students
  • Taught 3,406 garden, food and nutrition lessons to students
  • Tended 575 edible school gardens
  • Hosted 1,935 hands-on cooking activities with students
  • Incorporated farm to school into 390 staff professional development opportunities
  • Championed and sustained district-wide policies or procedures into 29 schools districts

Needless to say, the 2015-16 school year was a banner year for farm to school in Georgia, and all participants were thrilled to celebrate at the Golden Radish Awards.

A full list of the farm to school highlights from each honored district is below:

Atlanta Public Schools—Gold

  • The district in collaboration with Captain Planet Foundation, Sodexo, and Mirror Image Mentoring introduced the new District Grown Gardens initiative to bring food grown in school gardens to the cafeteria line. Herbs grown at four school garden sites were served in all cafeterias on Earth Day.
  • Locally grown produce is featured monthly at the 36 elementary schools participating in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable program, including locally grown muscadines, zucchini, strawberries, and red beets.
  • Students interacted with local farmers and producers 116 times throughout the school year, including a “Meet the Farmer” event on the first day of school at Bunch Middle School and Grady High School.

Barrow County School System—Gold

  • Locally grown food was featured on the menu 123 days during the school year with a different local item highlighted every month.
  • All third graders in the district grew their own cabbages from seed. Students learned how to care for plants while applying their math skills with addition, subtraction and comparisons in the garden.
  • Second grade elementary students from Statham Elementary partnered with high school students at the Sims Academy of Plant Sciences Program for a live streaming event in which Academy students gave the second graders a virtual tour of their greenhouse. The second graders were able to ask the high schoolers about plant care and identification and prevention of plant diseases in preparation for planning their own classroom garden.

Bartow County School System—Silver

  • Twelve of Bartow County’s schools have school gardens used for a variety of activities. White Elementary School produced enough kale in their garden to have a kale chip taste test for all students. Cass Middle School students grew tomato plants and sold them as a fundraiser for their garden club.
  • Tammy Brannen, of Southern Press and Packing in Blackshear, Georgia, visited students at Hamilton Crossing Elementary School on Earth Day to discuss growing blueberries on her 100 acre farm. Students planted their own blueberry bush to take home and enjoyed Georgia Grown Blueberry juice at lunch.
  • Bartow County School Nutrition used a variety of methods to promote locally grown foods being served in their cafeterias. Locally grown items and cooking demonstrations were promoted 132 times using social media, school and cafeteria signage, featured recipes, and newspaper coverage several times during the year.

Bibb County School District—Gold

  • Students from multiple schools experienced agriculture through hands-on learning on ‘Ag Day.’ Students interacted with farmers and Georgia Grown product vendors by milling wheat, learning how bees make honey, learning about farm equipment, and planting their own tomatoes.
  • Bibb County School Nutrition held 105 taste tests, including hosting a Food Festival where students were able to try different items, including Kale and Apple Salad, Quinoa Kale Wraps, and fresh herb and tomato bean salad, to provide feedback for the district’s menu.
  • Local items are served weekly on the school menu, including Vidalia onions, Elliot Farms strawberries, AF Farms hydroponic lettuce, Lane Southern Orchards pecans and peaches, and Dickey Farms peaches, blueberries, sweet potatoes, and watermelon.

Bleckley County School District—Gold

  • All six of Bleckley County’s schools participate in the Feed My School for a Week program and enjoyed a nearly 100% local school lunch.
  • The Bleckley County School Nutrition Program featured locally grown items on their menu 160 times. Georgia Grown items from Back to Basic, Daisy Adams Farm, Lane Packing, and Billy Williams’ Farm are integrated throughout school menus. Students regularly enjoyed local whole grain flour, peas, peaches, strawberries, and butter beans.
  • Students interacted with farmers 20 times including Bleckley Elementary School’s annual Agriculture and Career Day.

Brantley County School District—Bronze

  • The School Nutrition Program partnered with the Real Life 101 class at Brantley County High School to utilize their very first school garden for students with intellectual disabilities and autism. Garden-based teaching has enabled teachers to address the various learning styles and needs of the students. Educators noted that the integration of farm to school into the Real Life curriculum has had a positive impact on student’s behavior as they learn to cooperate and work together toward common goals in the garden.
  • Thirty-six hands on cooking and food activities were conducted throughout the school year, including three days of eighth grade science laboratory covering chemical and physical reactions using various food items and in depth agriculture lessons on processing chicken.
  • The district involved the whole community in their farm to school program on several occasions. The local feed and seed owner discussed planting with students and maintenance staff and administrators came together to build garden beds for the high school before enjoying lunch featuring cabbage, greens, broccoli, and green onions from the school garden.

Buford City Schools—Honorary

  • Teachers at Buford Academy won a grant for two Tower Gardens that are now displayed prominently so students can see them daily and watch various vegetables grow.
  • Family & Consumer Science classes at Buford Middle School and Buford High School cooked meals regularly and learned how to make various items from scratch including sourdough starter for bread, preparing fish and vegetables in parchment paper, and making homemade mozzarella cheese.

Burke County Public School System—Gold & Outstanding

  • The Burke County School Nutrition Program doubled the amount of money spent on purchasing local foods and worked closely with local growers to feature local items on the menu a minimum of 3 days a week.
  • First Lady Michelle Obama visited Burke County’s STEM-based learning gardens as part of her US Garden Tour. She planted with students and ate a school lunch that was composed of more than 90% local foods including many regular school menu items.
  • As part of their in-service training, Burke County School Nutrition staff visited three local farms that grow food for the district to bridge the gap between what happens on the farm and in the cafeteria.

Carrollton City Schools—Gold

  • Locally grown items were featured daily on breakfast and lunch menus and the Carrollton City School Nutrition Department created comprehensive branding for their farm to school program. Students identified locally grown foods easily in the cafeteria with clear signage, labeling of locally grown foods as “LG” on the menu, and “Eat Healthy, Eat Local, Eat at Carrollton City Schools” packaging.
  • Farm to school was integrated into over 50 standards-based lessons including learning how animals produce milk, garden-based problem solving through the creation of vertical and mobile gardens, tracking the sun for optimal growing, composting, and learning the plant life cycle.
  • Master Gardeners, Extension Agents, Keep Carroll Beautiful staff, parents, and other community members helped the farm to school program with building raised beds, planting, and assisting with taste tests.

Cartersville City School District—Honorary

  • Locally grown items were featured in school meals on 72 days.
  • Local items were highlighted and featured on the school lunch menus. For example, this year Georgia Grown blueberries were featured and cafeteria managers created age appropriate ways to promote the blueberries to their students.

Cherokee County School District—Gold

  • The Cherokee County Farm to School Committee held bimonthly meetings at the Cherokee County Farm Bureau that were open to everyone in the community. They collaborated with parents, teachers, school administrative staff, local farmers, Cooperative Extension, Master Gardeners, FFA, churches, the Upper Etowah River Alliance, Girls Scouts, and more. Local businesses even offered discounts for individuals purchasing supplies for Cherokee County’s school gardens.
  • Over 1,000 promotions occurred to encourage students to choose local foods in the school cafeteria and participate in school garden activities and farm field trips.
  • More than 400 hands-on cooking and food activities occurred in the district with many lessons led by volunteer chefs and farmers. Events included Chef Tony Pisconeri visiting classrooms to demonstrate proper knife skills and plating techniques and agriculture students learning about honey with Jeannie Ross of Ross Berry Farm and Apiaries.

Clarke County School District—Gold

  • A locally grown fruit or vegetable was featured district-wide every week of the school year based on seasonality and six times a year, Clarke Middle School offered a Garden Bar featuring items grown in the school garden. Students were able to taste test local foods over 80 times with raw fruits and vegetables and creative recipes such as carrot top pesto, zucchini pizza bites, mint strawberry salad, and green smoothies.
  • The district partners worked extensively with local organizations to support farm to school efforts, including the Athens Land Trust, FoodCorps, AmeriCorps Keep Athens-Clarke County Beautiful, local restaurants, University of Georgia, and many more.
  • Students tended 20 school gardens, including orchards, greenhouses, and raised beds, that served as learning labs and outdoor classrooms. Students and teachers creatively incorporated the school gardens into lessons in a variety of disciplines, from agricultural science to math and visual arts.

Cobb County School District—Silver

  • Using 34 mobile kitchen carts throughout the district to conduct live cooking demonstrations with students. The School Nutrition Department developed a curriculum to connect cooking with the classroom and students participated in over 60 hands on cooking and food activities.
  • Having over 30 school gardens, ranging from raised beds to aquaponic and hydroponic gardens.
  • The School Nutrition Program served over 1 million pounds of local food and students had the opportunity to taste test a variety of fresh, locally grown food 73 times.

Coffee County School System—Honorary

  • Locally grown foods were featured 178 days during the school year.
  • Students regularly enjoyed local cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and green bell peppers in their salad bar.

Columbia County School District—Honorary

  • Baker Place Elementary School students planted cabbage in their garden and used it to make a soup to serve it to other students.
  • Students interacted with farmers 18 times, including a visit to Guroski’s Berry Farm in North Augusta and Steeds Dairy in Grovetown where they had the opportunity to tour the farm, pick produce, and milk the cows.
  • Evans High School students grew and sold edible plants to raise money for their horticulture class.

Commerce City Schools—Bronze

  • Locally grown food was served 36 days, including collard greens, sweet potatoes, and lettuce from Pressley Farms, kale and mixed greens from The Veggie Patch, and peaches from Jaemor Farms.
  • Commerce High School students set up a Taste Test tent for five consecutive days in the cafeteria. Students were able to taste a variety of locally grown produce and products during lunch, including Georgia peanuts for Farm to School Day.
  • Thirty-four farm to school standards-based lessons were taught throughout the year. The School Nutrition Department collaborated with high school Agriculture and Consumer Science students to teach nutrition and agriculture lessons to elementary and primary school students.

Crisp County School System—Honorary

  • Locally grown food was served 90 times during the school year including whole wheat flour, greens, apples, tomatoes, watermelons, and peaches.
  • The Primary School has 15 raised garden beds and pre-k students have 6 raised beds that were planted with support from FFA students.
  • Primary School students enjoyed a week of farm activities in which farmers brought displays, tractors, and farm animals to introduce students to different aspects of agriculture.

Dade County Schools—Bronze

  • 6,000 school meals were served featuring locally grown cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, squash, zucchini, sweet potatoes, and watermelon grown within 250 miles of the district.
  • The high school Family and Consumer Science teacher collaborated with the Environmental Science teacher to coordinate their classes to teach about nutrition while growing vegetables in the greenhouse for four large taste tests.
  • All schools have at least one edible garden, including an orchard at an elementary school and a greenhouse at the high school.

Dalton Public Schools—Honorary

  • Food grown in school gardens was incorporated into school lunch over 30 times, including cabbage, cilantro, broccoli, pumpkin, pepper, lettuce, and berries.
  • School Nutrition staff worked directly with students for input on menu items. Students studying the nutritional aspects of cauliflower voted to have the cafeteria prepare and serve Cauliflower Crust Pizza.

City Schools of Decatur—Gold

  • Locally grown food was featured on the school menu 60 times, including tomatoes, cucumbers, okra, broccoli, and sweet potatoes from Common Market and the West Georgia Farmer’s Cooperative. They also utilized the Department of Defense (DOD) Program to procure local produce, including cucumbers, peppers, yellow squash, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries, watermelon, peaches, and broccoli.
  • In partnership with the Wylde Center and community volunteers, two district-wide taste tests were conducted. Students helped grow and harvest the produce for the taste test.
  • Eight schools have edible learning gardens which include fruit trees and bushes, outdoor classroom space, compost bins, rain catchment systems, and weather stations.

DeKalb County School District—Bronze

  • Over 740,000 meals featured a locally grown item.
  • Students taste tested a variety of local foods in the cafeteria and through cooking lessons, including radish bruschetta, sauerkraut, cabbage stir fry, and sweet potato smoothies.
  • Forty-five field trips during the school year gave students the opportunity to visit farms and experience agriculture first-hand.
  • There are 26 edible school gardens that are maintained by students, staff, and local community members. The district partners with the Fernbank Science Center to provide in-depth training for educators and volunteers to become Master School Gardeners.


Dougherty County School System—Gold

  • Local food was featured daily on the school lunch menu, often including Romaine lettuce, spinach, collard greens, kale, scallions and radishes grown in their teaching gardens.
  • Strong community partners supported the district’s work, including the Southwest Georgia Project, Inc. conducting taste test of yams, cantaloupe, honeydew, grapes, strawberries and herbs with students.
  • Farmers visited schools on 14 occasions to teach students about growing vegetables and the importance of healthy eating. Visitors included Robinson Family Farm, Wilburn Farms, Ruby’s Garden, Herndon Jr. Farms, Master Gardeners, UGA Extension, Small Farmers Distribution Network and Southwest Georgia Project, Inc.

Effingham County Schools—Silver

  • Locally grown food was featured on 145 days and included produce from Heritage Organic Farm in Guyton and Walker Organic Farm in Sylvania.
  • Eight taste tests were conducted to expose students to new fruits and vegetables, including several different types of radishes, turnips, kale, cucumbers, and white sweet potatoes.
  • Students interacted with farmers on six different occasions. Fourth grade students participated in a district-wide lunch contest in which class with the highest lunch participation for a week won a farm field trip. Students also visited Heritage Organic Farm to learn about vermiculture, organic farming practices, beneficial insects, and composting.

Elbert County School District—Gold

  • Local items were highlighted monthly in the Harvest of the Month program, including produce from Mountain Earth Farms in Clarkesville, grits from White County, and strawberries grown 20 miles from the district at Moon Farms. This program allows students to try that month’s selected produce in their classroom and in the cafeteria the day before it is served in the menu.
  • Parents and community members were involved in farm to school activities throughout the year. Elbert County Middle School parents read “Who Grew My Soup” at Parent/Student Literacy Night and enjoyed minestrone soup that included collard greens grown in the Middle School garden.
  • There are five edible school gardens throughout the district and produce harvested from the gardens were used for taste tests or in the cafeteria for school meals.

Fannin County School System—Gold

  • Locally grown items were served on 135 days, including Gabe’s Greens hydroponic lettuce served in salads at all schools.
  • Fourth grade students took part in a year-long composting program. They collected and composted leftover scraps from the cafeteria. The students tracked the amount of food recycled through their composting program and shared their results with other students through posters and presentations on the importance of composting.
  • All five schools in Fannin County have their own school garden. Blue Ridge Elementary School has an active school garden club that maintains their raised beds and grows and prepares their own produce. East Fannin Elementary first graders planted pumpkins with the help of Feed Fannin volunteers. Both Fannin County Middle School and High School have greenhouses.

Fayette County Public Schools—Silver

  • Sixteen taste tests were conducted, including broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and green beans from school gardens.
  • Students visited farms or were visited by farmers fifteen times. A mobile dairy visited four school and students enjoyed getting to meet an actual cow. Elementary school students learned about honey bees at Southern Belle Farm and about strawberries at Rock Ranch. Local farmers and agriculture professionals, including Master Gardeners and Extension agents, visited schools throughout the year to teach kids about agriculture and assist with garden maintenance.
  • Students participate in 41 hands on cooking and food activities. A favorite cooking activity was trying raw pumpkin and toasting pumpkin seeds.

Forsyth County Schools—Silver

  • Locally grown foods were featured on menus 161 times, produce from an elementary school garden.
  • Ten schools have active school gardens that are maintained by students. Parents and volunteers assist with the school gardens, farm to school lessons, taste tests, and more.
  • Twenty-nine taste tests were conducted often centered around items growing in school gardens, such as bok choy and asparagus

Franklin County Schools—Honorary

  • 1,350 school meals included locally grown food, including local tomatoes in the high school pre-made salad boxes.
  • School nutrition staff attended a training led by a chef from the University of Georgia and learned new ways to integrate herbs and spices with vegetables in school lunches.

Fulton County Schools—Gold

  • Each month, the School Nutrition Program worked with Royal Food Service to source at least one locally grown item to feature in all 93 schools’ cafeterias.
  • 108 taste tests were conducted, including a Georgia Grown steamed cabbage recipe and sweet potatoes from a school garden.
  • Forty school gardens are located throughout the district including raised beds, greenhouses, orchards, and potted herbs.

Gainesville City School System—Bronze

  • Local menu items are highlighted in the school cafeterias with signage and clings on the serving line, including hydroponic lettuce from Stone Creek Hydroponics in Hartwell, GA.
  • Five farm to school standards-based lessons were taught, including science classes collecting food waste from the cafeteria to study compost.
  • Two school gardens are in the district, including Enota Elementary which produced cabbage, arugula, spinach, basil, rosemary, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, peppers, and sunflowers.

Gwinnett County Public Schools—Gold

  • Over 8 million school meals included at least one locally grown item.
  • Every Wednesday was a “Try Day” where students could sample a bite-size taste of a locally grown item. Students enjoyed everything from simple grape tomatoes to delicious Moroccan Spiced Carrots.
  • Students participated in 266 standards-based lessons, including the plant life cycle and composting.

Habersham County Schools—Gold

  • Ten schools have school gardens which range from classroom containers to raised beds to greenhouses.
  • To learn about farming first-hand, students went on farm field trips to Hillside Orchard Farms, Jaemor Farm, Chattooga Bellle Farm, and Melon Head Farm.
  • In partnership with the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia, a FoodCorps service member supported school gardens and nutrition education in several schools. FoodCorps is a national team of AmeriCorps leaders who serve in high-need schools to make sure students learn what healthy food is, fall in love with it, and eat it every day.


Hall County Schools—Honorary

  • Students participated in 12 taste tests of locally grown fruits and vegetables.
  • During the early fall and spring months, 2nd graders visited the gardens located outside of the Board of Education office and learned about pollination, plant life cycles, composting and nutrition.

Hart County Schools—Silver

  • Students participated in ten taste tests of locally grown food through Hartwell Elementary’s Georgia Grown Test Kitchen.
  • Numerous community organizations supported the district’s farm to school program including Kiwanis, Farm Bureau, and University of Georgia Cooperative Extension.
  • STEM students learned about water cycles by designing ways to capture water to use in the school garden instead of using city water. To put this research and knowledge to use, they built rain barrels and gauges.

Henry County Schools—Honorary

  • Thirty schools went on farm field trips to Southern Belle Farm where students learned about milking cows and planting fruits and vegetables.

Jackson County Schools—Gold

  • Locally grown food was featured on the menu on 52 days during the school year with approximately 24,700 meals served featuring a local grown item.
  • Students participated in 20 taste tests often featuring a local item that was going to be served on the school menu. Students were able to taste and give their evaluation of the selected item. The School Nutrition Department has found that students were much more inclined to choose new items on the serving line after they’ve had the opportunity to taste test it.
  • Students participated in 120 farm to school standards-based lessons during the school year. South Jackson Elementary School students learned science standards through hands-on food activities, school gardens, and in their greenhouse as part of their farm to school based Scienhancement program.


Laurens County Schools—Gold

  • Locally grown food was featured on the menu 89 days of the school year, including Bibb lettuce from R&G Farms, corn from Troup Corn, whole grain flour from Butts Farm, pickles from Greenway Farms, strawberries from Smith Strawberry Farm, apples from Mercier Orchards, and peaches from Pearson Farms.
  • Students had the opportunity to try new foods 88 times during the school year. Every school participated in monthly “Try Days” of locally grown items, including blueberries, collard, butternut squash, and much more. High school students tried local herbs in Baked Ziti with homemade tomato and basil marinara sauce, Cilantro-Black Bean Salsa, and Roasted Tomato Soup with fresh basil and tomatoes.
  • Seven schools have edible gardens. Laurens County Young Farmers have built and maintained over 30 raised garden beds at five schools. Students use the gardens to learn math through measuring plant growth, soil conservation, ecosystems, probability, seasons, writing, and more.

Lee County School District—Honorary

  • Primary school students planted and nurtured carrots and lettuce as part of standards-based curriculum lessons. The students were able to end the project with a taste test of the produce they grew.
  • Three schools in the district have edible school gardens. Lee County agricultural students maintain one of the gardens year round.

Madison County School District—Bronze

  • Locally grown food was on the school menu 16 times during the school year with approximately 8,500 school meals featuring local produce. All five elementary schools featured Georgia Grown apples for at least one day during September. In April and May local strawberries from Moon Farms were featured at all schools.
  • Hull Sanford Elementary School hosted a school wide taste test. All 650 students tasted three different kinds of apples.
  • Students learned curriculum standards through farm and garden based education through lessons on conservation and pollinators, soil, and economics.

Marietta City Schools—Bronze

  • Over 500,000 school meals featured a locally grown product! Hickory Hills Elementary was a Georgia Grown Test Kitchen site which enabled students and staff to sample recipes featuring locally grown fruits and vegetables and provide input on the recipes.
  • Three schools have class composting programs. Parents, teachers, and students collect food waste and students learn about reducing waste and making healthy soil.
  • Kennesaw State University Students for Environmental Sustainability built an outdoor classroom at the Marietta Center for Advanced Academics (MCAA). Kennesaw students taught MCAA students lessons on sustainability and sustainable gardening techniques. Students also made salsa from their themed salsa garden.

Morgan County Charter School System—Honorary

  • Local menu items were featured on the school lunch menu on 11 days.
  • Culinary classes incorporated elements of farm to school into the curriculum.

Muscogee County School District—Honorary

  • Locally grown foods were featured on the school menu each month. Students had the opportunity to test new items and results were used to determine whether the item would be placed on the upcoming menu.
  • Elementary students learned how to bake homemade rolls with local wheat through a “From Germ to Cookie” lesson led by Ginger Butts from Back to Basics and School Nutrition Chef Tiffany Lawrence.
  • Five schools in the district have edible school gardens and students enjoyed growing and eating fresh turnips, collards, cabbage, tomatoes, squash, jalapenos, and more.

Newton County Schools—Silver

  • Local produce was featured daily on the school lunch menu totaling approximately 750,000 meals with locally grown food. Students enjoyed locally grown bell peppers and tomatoes on salads throughout the year in addition to monthly highlighted local items, such as blueberries and butternut squash.
  • Students learned curriculum standards through farm to school oriented lessons 80 times, including high school agriculture students learning seasonality through locally grown produce and Fairview Elementary students plating cabbage to prepare coleslaw for a science lesson.
  • Students visited Mitcham Farms in Covington on a field trip and to learn about and taste strawberries. Mitcham Farms strawberries were also served in the school cafeterias.

Paulding County Schools—Bronze

  • Locally grown foods were featured on 108 days, totaling over 1.8 million meals featuring local food.
  • Parents and community members were actively involved in farm to school events and activities throughout the year. For example, parents of Paulding County High School students assisted with a five-day edible and flowering plant sale, including five types of peppers, rosemary, and basil.
  • The district collaborated with Basil Farms to provide a weekly community supported agriculture (CSA) program providing a weekly share of fruits and vegetables for staff.

Rabun County Schools—Silver

  • Monthly taste tests were conducted in each school with help from parents and community members. Students had the opportunity to try new items and vote on whether they liked it.
  • Students enjoyed 61 hands on cooking and food activities, including cooking demonstrations by Chef Jamie Allred of Fortify restaurant.
  • The district partnered with the Northeast Georgia Food Bank on a six-course ‘Garden to Table’ series. Students and parents learned about container gardening, healthy eating, and food preservation.

Savannah-Chatham County Public School System—Silver

  • Locally grown foods were featured on average of two days each week, totaling over 2.7 million meals with at least one local item.
  • Students participated in 264 taste tests of broccoli, collards, kale, snap peas, winter squash, and more. Eleven elementary schools held taste tests in partnership with HealthMPowers program.
  • Curriculum standards were taught using garden and food based activities 346 times. Twenty edible school gardens in the district served as learning labs for lessons like composting and food chains.

Sumter County Schools—Gold

  • Students participated in 25 farm to school standards based lessons, including using math skills to measure garden spaces and mark off rows, learning about how weather affects plants, and exploring different types of soil.
  • Middle school students interviewed farmers to create the “Ag Hall of Fame” in their school to honor local farmers.
  • Students taste tested local products 25 times, including a celebrity visit from the Georgia Watermelon Queen at Furlow Charter School to assist with a watermelon smoothie taste test.

Tift County Schools—Gold

  • Local food was featured on the school menu daily, totally over 1.4 million meals featuring at least one local item. Students enjoyed produce from school gardens in addition to items sourced locally through a distributor, including romaine lettuce, squash, tomatoes, broccoli, beans, and more.
  • Eleven schools have edible school gardens, including a 15 acre district owned farm. Garden produce is often used for taste tests.
  • Students interacted with farmers 13 times, including a district-wide Children’s Farm Day when third grade students planted, harvested, and prepared food with farmers.

Toombs County Schools—Bronze

  • Local food was featured on the school menu 22 times, including locally grown sweet potatoes and Turnip Greens from Herndon Farms in Lyons, strawberries from Mathews Farms in Baxley, and Regenerate blueberry juice from Alma.
  • Toombs County High School agriculture students grew hydroponic lettuce and worked with cafeteria staff to serve it in a side salad at lunch.
  • The Toombs County Farm Bureau supported the district’s school gardens. Students planted and harvested corn, tomatoes, basil, cabbage, turnips, kale, and broccoli.

Treutlen County Schools—Silver

  • Locally grown items were featured on the school menu 22 times, including tomatoes and cucumbers from school gardens.
  • Students participated in six hands-on cooking and food activities primarily using food grown in the school garden. Students picked blueberries, kale, carrots, and tomatoes for smoothies, salads, and raw tastings.
  • Teachers integrated farm to school into curriculum lessons 20 times. Kindergarten and first grade used the garden for various science and math lessons while fourth graders learned about composting.

Ware County Schools—Honorary

  • Local food was featured on their menu 25 times. Many of the farms they sourced from were from within 30 miles of the district, including Regenerate blueberry juice, Griffin Meats beef, Zachary Farms sweet potatoes, Moore’s Farm cherry tomatoes, and Lane’s Bridge hydroponic lettuce
  • The community has rallied together to help make farm to school happen in Ware County. For instance, parents and community leaders connected with local farmers and assisted with delivery and pick up from farms. Local pediatricians ate lunch with students to encourage them to eat more fruits and vegetables.

Warren County Public Schools—Bronze

  • Locally grown food was featured on the menu 75 times, including produce grown in school gardens.
  • Teachers taught 17 farm to school standards based lessons, including science and nutrition lessons in a greenhouse with first through third graders.
  • Through a partnership with the Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission and the Warren County Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education Department, a school greenhouse was converted into a 15 raised bed school garden for elementary students. The School Nutrition Department credits the new garden as doubling vegetable consumption across all grade levels and increasing the sale of salads at school lunch by 300%!

Worth County Schools—Honorary

  • Over 25,000 meals were served featuring one or more local items, including turnip greens, collard greens, sweet potatoes, sweet corn-on-the-cob, and butternut squash.
  • The High School Family and Consumer Science class visited the cafeteria to learn about healthy meal patterns from the cafeteria manager and students assisted the cafeteria staff with preparing a delicious, healthy meal.


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