Leilani turned broccoli into a paintbrush.
Charlie tucked a seed into a newspaper tube filled with soil.
Cautaujamir offered a paper bag to reach in to identify its hidden vegetable by feel.
These three 11-year-olds at Burke County Middle School joined their classmates in setting up and operating garden stations to celebrate “Garden Thyme” the 2018 BCMS Garden Kickoff. Burke County Schools is a Gold level Golden Radish Awardee and the 2017 Outstanding District.
A host of adults visited the stations – which also included garden yoga and plant part relay races – but the visitors these middle schoolers were most excited about were the elementary school students that came over to participate in the fun.
“It helps us learn. It helps them learn,” Liannis, a 13-year-old eighth grader, said of showing the younger students what to do at the stations.
Dipping asparagus and broccoli into paint transformed them into brushes, and those brushes created vegetable impressions on paper plates.
“We’re making art!” Leilani said. “We’re being creative.”
Local farmers who provide the school with local produce for its lunches were also on hand to engage with this group of potential future farmers.
Loretta Adderson loves to supply fresh vegetables so the students have the opportunity to know what it looks and tastes like.
“When they see the fresh opposed to the already-processed, there’s no correlation,” said Adderson, who grew up in Waynesboro and grows certified organic produce in nearby Keysville with her husband, Sam. “They know okra as fried and breaded. They’ve never seen it fresh. I love this. I love what the school is doing.”
Garden Kickoff visitors were offered a delicious lunch that showcased locally grown food.
“Everything’s local today,” said Donna Martin, Director, School Nutrition Programs.
Kenneth Sweat grew the white acre peas.
Pete Jackson grew the collard greens.
And Henry Glisson made the barbecue sauce.
On a normal day, students always have at least one local item, but this Sept. 11 was special.
“Our goal is to support our local farmers,” said Kara LeClair, Burke County’s Farm to School Dietitian. “Everything down to the barbecue sauce and the bread is local.”
The presence of fresh food – and the opportunity to learn about how it grows – isn’t only found in the lunch room.
Adrienne Saulisberry wrote a grant to fund her classroom’s tower garden, where basil, chard, and lettuce currently grows as part of her science curriculum.
“We use seeds to talk about energy transformations,” she told Congressman Rick Allen and other guests as they gathered in her classroom. “They are engaged! They love it!.”
Burke County students also get the opportunity to learn to cook thanks to the Charlie Cart, a mobile cooking cart that hosts up to six classes a week with tools to accommodate up to 20 students.
“It builds up the garden-based learning,” Kara said. “It’s a blast!”
You can keep up with 2016 Golden Radish Outstanding District Burke County Farm to School through social media here: