THIS ROMAINE LETTUCE BED is the subject of a lesson being taught by Mrs. Tracy Champagne, center, at Whigham School. Mrs. Champagne says, “By harvesting properly, we are able to get multiple cuttings of lettuce. The students are completely responsible for the preparation, planting, growing and harvesting of the raised bed gardens. All the produce goes directly to the school cafeteria.”
The Grady County School System will soon be honored with a Silver Award for excellence for its farm to school performance. The honor will be announced at the 2019 Golden Radish Awards, Sept. 17, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
“Receiving the Silver Golden Radish Award for school year 2018-2019’s efforts is amazing,” says Mallory Barrett, Grady County School nutrition director. “But none of this could have been accomplished without the excellent work Mrs. (Tracy) Champagne has put into her agriculture program at Whigham School. We can only do so much nutrition education and farm to school efforts in the cafeteria, but partnering with the agriculture department has been extremely successful for us. Hopefully, through these farm to school efforts, our students are learning where their food is actually coming from and how wonderful it is to support your local farmers. We are highlighting a Georgia grown fresh product item in the cafeteria and serving it on the serving line at least once a month through the ‘Harvest of the Month’ initiative.”
Barrett says the most notable farm to school achievements from the 2018-2019 school year include:
• Kale chips made from kale grown in the school garden at Whigham School were one of the students’ favorite taste tests last year. The school garden produced enough kale to share with several schools.
• Members of the community, including local farmers, regularly stop by to check on the greenhouse and garden at Whigham, and local businesses donate garden inputs, such as fertilizer and soil. Whigham farmer Sammy Perkins selected the Whigham FFA to receive the America’s Farmers Grow Grant to help expand their agriculture program.
• Elementary students will be able to attend agriculture classes this year as another elective class in addition to music and art.
The Golden Radish Award is given to Local Educational Agencies in Georgia that are doing extraordinary work in farm to school. This work includes best practices in farm to school programs, such as local food procurement, exposing students to new foods through taste tests and incorporating gardening and cooking activities in curriculum. Local educational agencies are recognized at five levels. Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze and Honorary Radishes are awarded to recognize LEAs with varying levels of farm to school programs.
Georgia Organics created the Golden Radish Awards in 2015 to raise awareness for Georgia’s emerging farm to school programs and share the best practices among awardees. Georgia Organics’ chairs the Golden Radish Committee and facilitates the awards process annually to recognize Farm to School excellence across Georgia.
The Award is presented by Golden Radish partners Georgia Organics, Georgia’s Departments of Agriculture, Education and Public Health, the Department of Early Care and Learning and University of Georgia Cooperative Extension.
“School nutrition is not an ‘extra’ – it’s part of offering a well-rounded education to students. Kids who have access to fresh, healthy, locally grown foods are better equipped to learn,” says State School Superintendent Richard Woods.
The Grady County School System is among 90 Georgia school districts to be recognized at the 2019 Golden Radish Awards. Collectively, these districts served over two million meals featuring local food and tended 4,646 school gardens while conducting 4,432 hands-on food and gardening activities.