October is Farm to School Month, and this year 84 Georgia school districts are being recognized and awarded the Golden Radish Award for using best practices in farm to school programs, such as local food procurement, exposing students to new foods through taste tests and incorporating cooking and gardening activities in curriculum.
While there is a lot of focus on Farm to School, we have the opportunity to reach children earlier than Kindergarten or First Grade.
This year, Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) is awarding the Baby Golden Radish to the Bleckley County School District for innovative implementation of Farm to Early Care and Education into the district’s embedded preschool program.
“53 school districts applied for the Baby Radish Award,” said Amy Jacobs, Commissioner of DECAL. “That’s 23,000 children in early childhood education experiencing Farm to Early Care and Education.”
Bleckley County Learning Center has participated in the Farm to School Program since 2012 when the school was part of the Feed My School for a Week promotion in Bleckley County. This year, Pre-K teacher, Kristin Sims organized a Life on the Farm Day at Pre-K. Students enjoyed butter churning, planting seeds, the Fort Valley Extension Life on the Farm animal exhibit, baby chicks from a local chicken house, planting seeds with volunteers from the local Farm Bureau and nutrition program. Rotations for the Life on the Farm Day included a peach farm exhibit, the cotton commission exhibit and even a chance to mill flour with a local farmer. Tractors and farm equipment brought in by local farmers were favorite attractions among the students. Students were also excited about visiting with Georgia and the Vidalia onion mascot.
During the school year, students participated in other Farm to School promotions. For the Make Room for Legumes promotion, nutrition staff members read the book, The Tiny Seed, to classes and helped each class plant legume seeds. Teachers also led legume related art lessons. Bleckley County Learning Center farm to school program has included farm visits to pick strawberries and farm visits to a local corn maze. A favorite activity for the 2018 school year was the mobile dairy unit.
Teachers at Bleckley County Learning Center have attended Farm to School training and the Georgia Farm Bureau Agriculture in the Classroom Conference. This school was awarded a grant to install raised garden beds and for a classroom kitchen to taste test and prepare school garden items in the classroom with students.
Bleckley County Learning Center started the farm to school initiative with special menus for the farm to school programs and Georgia Grown items being offered monthly but has progressed to be a comprehensive farm to school program. The Farm to School program is incorporated into the many different aspects of the curriculum.
For more information on Farm to Early Care and Education, visit our Farm to Early Care and Education page.