The Jackson County School System is partnering with Georgia farmers to bring fresh foods to the children of the county. Some of those farms are less than a mile from the schools so there is something locally grown on the school menu every day.
Farm-to-school foods are important to the Jackson County school officials because they say the program helps children to develop positive relationships with food and teaches them responsibility when they grow food or in some cases, help care for animals.
Garden activities and nutrition education are also an important aspect of the Georgia Grown program. For the third year, the Jackson County Schools have a FoodCorps service member, Melissa Gurevitch, who strives to help children build a positive relationship with food.
All elementary schools have some form of a garden where students learn about the science and mathematics behind gardening. The focus is on the connection between the lesson plans from class to experiential learning opportunities in the gardens.
The food that is planted in these gardens can even be found in the cafeterias. ILeta Redmond, the farm-to-school specialist at West Jackson Elementary and Gum Springs Elementary, wants the students to experience foods in their freshest forms—straight from the garden.
West Jackson Elementary has an aquaponics system in the greenhouse behind the school. In addition to the greenhouse, there are also chickens and goats.
There is also a focus on problem-solving. For example, when a path to the garden was too muddy, the students decided to fill the path with mulch.
The school system also collaborates with the Georgia Department of Education and the Department of Agriculture to bring this program to the schools.
Anna Catherine Alderman is a junior journalism major at the Univeristy of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.
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