By Jeff Romig
Carrollton City Schools was the big winner at Monday’s Golden Radish Awards thanks to one thing.
They secured the 2018 Outstanding District Award for establishing a STEM focused farm to school model encompassing school gardening and an after school culinary club.
“They’re cutting edge, and they don’t make any excuse for being small,” said Vanessa Hayes, Director of Nutrition at Tift County Schools, during her introduction of the final award of the day.
The Golden Radish Awards honor Georgia school districts for best practices in farm to school programs. Best practices include local food procurement, exposing students to new foods through taste tests and incorporating cooking and gardening activities into class curricula.
“Georgia Organics is delighted to recognize the innovative farm to school initiatives that prepare our future farmers for economic prosperity,” said Alice Rolls, President and CEO of Georgia Organics. “We are proudly celebrating Certified Organic food procurement, the teaching of organic growing methods and the involvement of Certified Organic farmers in programs throughout the state.”
This year, 84 school districts participated in the Golden Radish Awards, and 74 of them attended the award ceremony at the historic Georgia Railroad Freight Depot in downtown Atlanta. This group – almost 50 percent of Georgia’s 181 districts – represents 1.3 million students at 1,666 of Georgia’s individual schools. (Read our full news release here to learn about each winning school district.)
During the 2017-18 school year, these districts served more than 109 million meals to students that included a local food item.
Warren County Public Schools received the inaugural Organic Radish Award from Georgia Organics. The Organic Radish Award recognizes school districts preparing future farmers to meet the ever-growing market demand for certified organic and sustainably raised food. Warren received the distinction for teaching organic growing practices, incorporating certified organic growers in the agricultural education program, and sourcing certified organic food for school meals.
“This work has ripples, and the possibilities are limitless y’all,” said Joe Reynolds, an organic farmer at Love is Love Farm in Dekalb County and the chairman of the Georgia Organics Board of Directors.
During the 2017-2018 school year, Golden Radish school districts collectively:
- Conducted 13,013 taste tests;
- Taught 61,297 standards based lessons;
- Tended 1,197 school gardens;
- Engaged students in 3,100 hands on cooking activities;
- Involved parents and community members in 8,875 farm to school activities.
Georgia Organics has been a statewide leader in farm to school since 2007. Since then, communities across the state have embraced the benefits of bringing students and fresh, local food closer together. All current Golden Radish partners played key roles in Monday’s ceremony, including Georgia’s departments of Agriculture (GDOA), Education (GaDOE), Public Health (GDPH), Early Care and Learning (DECAL) as well as the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension (UGA Extension).
From now through the end of December, we’ll be writing about and spotlighting our farmers and the work of our team. We hope you keep reading, and to invest in our good food efforts please click here to contribute $100, $50, $25 or any amount that’s meaningful to you.