Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting our Platinum Golden Radish Award Winner Sumter County. School Nutrition Manager and 2018 Southeast Regional Manager of the Year Larry Jackson hosted me during my visit. Larry’s enthusiasm for school meal innovation is infectious. He inspired the scholars at Furlow Charter School to embrace healthy, local fruits and vegetables through taste testings and including students in “Feed My School” activities, like corn shucking. Larry works tirelessly with colleagues to foster community connections that support Furlow’s project based learning curriculum by supporting school gardening initiatives and collaborating with teachers to facilitate farm to school trainings.
Larry and the Furlow Charter School staff rolled out the red carpet for me! After meeting Assistant Principal Williams, Principal Kuipers, Coach Umpleby and Georgia Organics “Farm to School for Teachers” alum Mrs. Patterson, they treated me to a new wardrobe of three Furlow T-shirts and a pound of delicious Café Campesino coffee. It turns out that Furlow Charter School and Georgia Organics both benefit from the support of Café Campesino. What a great surprise!
I spent a beautiful morning touring the extensive gardens on Furlow Charter School’s campus. Coach Umplebee showed me the recently planted blueberry patch, the newly sprouted watermelon, sunflower seeds and cucumbers, the attempts at deer-proofing some of the raised beds, the kindergarten and first grade beds, the mathematics skills demonstration garden and all of the container gardens surrounding the school building. Everywhere students go on campus offers exposure to different types of gardens and edible plants. It is beautiful there!
After visiting with cafeteria staff and chatting with students, Larry made sure I had some snacks with fresh veggies for the road and sent me on my way.
I headed to the center of Americus, Ga., home of former president Jimmy Carter and Georgia Organics member Café Campesino. That gift of the coffee from Furlow Charter School prompted my visit to their coffee shop, where I was pleasantly surprised to bump into Nema Etheridge. I think of Nema as our Georgia Organics’ coffee angel, because she makes sure we have fresh and delicious coffee at conference. In Americus, I learned that Nema and the Café Campsino team actually serve as coffee angels to a larger group than just our staff. They believe that business can be a positive force for social and environmental change and actively work to make the world a better place with their business practices. Co-Founder and CFO Bill Harris gave me a tour of the roastery while teaching me about B-corporations and how Café Campesino supports small, Certified Organic coffee growers.
Overall, my visit to Sumter County and Americus were a success and yet another great opportunity for Georgia Organics to strengthen our relationships throughout the state.