Blog of the Month: Fernbank Farm to School

Blog Of The Month: Fernbank Farm To School

Wed 24 Oct 2012

Story by The Food Revolution Team

Farm to School Project In Georgia

We’re coming to the end of National Farm to School Month and in honor of this highlighting a great Farm to School blog as this month’s blog of the month!

Fernbank Farm to School Blog, a PTA Wellness Project

The mission of the Fernbank Farm to School initiative is to improve the health and nutrition knowledge of the school's community through garden-related curriculum, awareness campaigns and exposure to local and healthy food.

The organic garden at Fernbank, Dekalb County in Georgia was started in the fall of 2010, headed up by a group of parents, and supported by local business Farmer D who installed 13 beds. Over the past two years both the garden and the number of parent volunteers has grown and continues to do so - last year there were 55 volunteers on the Farm To School committee, who helping with every aspect.

The first crops were planted in October of 2010, including lettuces, kale, broccoli and spinach, and strawberry plants were also sowed for harvest the following spring. The selection of what is grown at Fernbank is based on the season and students help with bed prep, planting, watering, and the harvest.

Edible Education

Through Fernbank's edible garden, nutrition education is integrated into every discipline, including science, math, language arts and social studies and Fernbank Farm to School supports wellness policies and helps create a healthier school environment by increasing the availability of healthy food choices. Through the program they implement:

• Kindergarten classes studying butterflies and parts of plants
• First grader lessons about the science of the food they grow - about the needs of plants, photosynthesis and the parts of plants
• Second grade studies in life cycles and composting
• Third graders measure the square-footage of the raised beds and create grids to guide plantings, calculating how many plants we would need to purchase in order to provide samples to the entire school
• Fourth graders study the United States Colonial history
• Fifth graders, usually too busy to participate in planting days, enjoy our tastings, where a local chef of note demonstrates the use of fresh fruits and vegetables, and the students get to taste and vote on the product.

Farm to School Initiatives

School wide Tastings

When it comes to harvest time, the Fernbank Farm to School committee want to have a way to let all 700 students taste what they had grown. Therefore they offer a tasting during PE class, so that they can reach every student. In the fall they get to try a variety of salad greens and in the spring they offer fresh strawberries or a salad with strawberries.

Produce of the Month

Each month Fernbank Farm to School highlights a produce served in the cafeteria and celebrates that fruit or vegetable. The first ‘Produce of the Month’ occurred on a day when broccoli was served as a lunch side item in the cafeteria. Supported by a picture of the principal on the bulletin board saying, “I love broccoli” and several parents helping the initiative in the cafeteria, just about all 700 students ate broccoli that day, stunning even the cafeteria staff!

Cafeteria sales rise on produce of the month days, and even some lunch box students ask to purchase the produce of the month as a side. This month, they have been celebrating apples!

What better way to make nutrition education matter than to put it to use during lunch.

Produce in the Community

Fernbank Elementary has partnered with a local organic farm who supplies many local restaurants and farmers markets, to bring a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) to their community. Family’s sign up for a subscription during a growing season and receive a weekly box of locally grown, organic produce.

Maintaining the Garden over the Summer

In 2012 the Fernbank Farm to School committee decided to offer the garden beds as an item at their school auction. Families could bid to have a box to maintain and harvest food for the summer. The committee offered themes, such as a box of different types of tomatoes, a pizza garden (with all the plants you would use for pizza or Italian food), and a bed with corn, beans and squash.

The Fernbank Farm to School Committee helps teachers reinforce the School Garden concepts taught in the classrooms.

Find out more about the Fernbank Farm to School Blog and PTA wellness project here. We can’t wait to see what’s growing and how the project develops over the next two years!

Do you have a Farm to School Initiative in your school, or a school garden? Let us know all about your real food education programs by posting on our Food Revolution Community facebook page.

The Food Revolution Team


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