Valdosta City Schools received kudos for their work:
- While the gardens of the Valdosta City Schools (VCS) began from the ashes of a school fire site, it became a community-wide project involving Master Gardeners, UGA Extension, VCS administrators, the United States Air Force and as many as 60 other community partners who contributed to the success of building the gardens.
- All 5th-grade students took a field trip to Corbett Farms, where they experienced a field full of vegetables and a lesson explaining the processes of plowing, planting, and harvesting.
- Students worked alongside school nutrition staff who taught them the proper way to clean, cut, cook, and season freshly harvested produce to prepare the tastiest meals!
Valdosta City Schools was one of 84 Georgia School Districts recognized at the awards. Collectively, these districts served more than 1.3 million students a whopping 109 million school meals with locally grown food items during the 2017-18 school year!
This year, the Golden Radish partners (Georgia Organics, Georgia’s Departments of Agriculture (GDA), Education (GaDOE) and Public Health (GDPH), the Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) and University of Georgia Cooperative Extension (UGA Extension) awarded 17 new school districts and inaugurated five new Farm to School Innovation awards.
- Georgia Organics presented an Organic Radish Award to Warren County Public Schools for including certified organic food in the meals program and teaching organic growing practices to students.
- GaDOE presented an award to farmer Lisa Dojan of Fisheads Aquaponics for her exemplary work with Georgia students.
- DPH presented an “Innovative Partnership” award to Clarke County School District for their partnerships and programs with local restaurants, Americorps, UGA “Grow It, Know It” and UGA Extension, local farmers, and the local food bank.
- GDA presented a “Georgia Grown” award to teacher Diana Cole from Barrow County.
- UGA Extension presented the Outstanding Extension Farm to School Program Award to Warren County Public School to recognize the comprehensive school garden plan, complete with harvest parade and-3 acre production garden, a model for our state.
- Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) presented the inaugural Baby Golden Radish Award to the Bleckley County School District for creating an innovative and exemplary Farm to Early Care and Education Program that advances the learning and development of its Pre-K and Head Start students.
Statements from Golden Radish Partners
“School gardens introduce new generations to the world of agriculture. They build a broader understanding of where our food comes from and what it takes to get it to the table, and they prepare future farmers to produce food innovatively, in ways that maximize resources and nurture our environment,” said Associate Dean for UGA Extension at the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Dr. Laura Perry Johnson.
“At the Georgia Department of Education we’re focused on expanding opportunities for Georgia’s kids, and farm to school is a perfect example of that,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “When students have access to fresh, local foods they’re better prepared to learn – and they can connect with Georgia agriculture, one of our state’s largest industries.”
“Feed My School For a Week, Georgia Grown Test Kitchen and the Golden Radish Awards are all great examples of success thanks to the strong partnership that has been cultivated between our Georgia producers and our school nutrition directors. We are proud of the accomplishments of Georgia’s farm to school efforts and excited to see what current and future award winners will further achieve as we work toward our 2020 Vision for School Nutrition in Georgia.”
---Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary W. Black
“Farm to school teaches our children the importance of food that helps bodies grow healthy and strong and food that promotes learning,” said J. Patrick O’Neal, M.D., commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health. “When children learn as early as possible where their food comes from, they are more likely to eat fresh, nutritious foods that will sustain healthy choices that spread to families and communities.”
“Georgia Organics is delighted to recognize the innovative Farm to School initiatives that prepare our future farmers for economic prosperity. 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. We know that Farm to School and organic education is a great way to increase access to good food for all,” said Alice Rolls, President and CEO of Georgia Organics.
“We believe that Farm to Early Care and Education activities enhance early childhood education and build a foundation for learning and development across all domains. As we continue to work with our partners to create more support for these initiatives, we applaud the 53 school districts that submitted entries for this first-ever Baby Golden Radish Award competition. Together, their Farm to Preschool Programs reach over 23,000 children in Pre-K and 11,000 in Head Start and Early Head Start,” said DECAL Commissioner Amy M. Jacobs.
The 2017-18 school year was a record breaking year of farm to school growth in Georgia, and all participants were thrilled to celebrate at the Golden Radish Awards.
The 84 school systems being recognized are:
Carrollton City School District
Valdosta City Schools