This year Northeast Georgia Farm to School hosted a three part professional development training for Habersham and Rabun County teachers to get more familiar with how to incorporate farm to school in their classrooms. We had 5 Habersham and 5 Rabun County teachers complete the training. The series began with “Cooking in the Classroom” where instructors, Chef Jamie Allred, Chef Barrie Aycock, Chef Whitney Denham, and Culinary Arts teacher Denise Dorsey, taught teachers how to prepare simple recipes with the mobile cooking cart in the classroom. The participating teaches were then required to create and implement a standards-based farm to school lesson plan. Some examples of what teachers came up with were making blackberry jam with students and connecting it to what a colloid is versus a solution, and germinating seeds to teach about the life cycle.
The final installment of the training was a day long farm tour where all participating teachers got to tour three farms, speak to the farmers, and experience farm activities that they could do with their students. The first farm we visited was Glory Seeds, in Clayton, GA, where teachers heard about the Jensen’s, the farm owners, vision of having a farm where the community can learn about healthy eating and sustainable living practices. They also got to hold week-old baby goats! Secondly, we visited Leah Lake Farm, located in Otto, NC, where teachers tasted spicy lettuce and learned about mushroom log inoculation. The teachers were extremely interested in mushroom inoculation because it is a fairly cheap and low-maintenance farm activity to do with students, and it is a great way to teach students life science. Lastly, we enjoyed a farm fresh lunch at Chattooga Belle Farm in Long Creek, SC and learned about field trip opportunities there for individual classes or whole grade levels.
The goal of farm tours is to bring awareness to what it takes to be a farmer, to teach the community about food, and to show that farming is related to everything we do. The teachers really enjoyed their experience participating in the three part teacher training, and they were able to take away knowledge and skills that they can now share with their students, colleagues, and families. Here is a quote from one of the Habersham County participants: “Thanks again for all your hard work. Today was a real eye opener for me and I plan on using the information that I have learned from this class in my own garden and life. I hope we can do this again not just for the PLU but for more knowledge on how to improve the lives of the children we come in contact with through gardening and cooking more healthy. Thanks.”