A brisk fall day on Grassfed Farms in Clarkesville proved the perfect setting for NEGA Farm to School’s professional development workshop for its mini-grant recipients. Teachers and nutrition staff from six Habersham and Rabun county schools (along with staff from NEGA Farm to School, Georgia Organics, and FoodCorps) gathered for a day of experiential learning and collaboration (in addition to some tasty food!).
The day started with an educational tour of Grassfed Farms. Murray and Angela Provine, the owners of Grassfed Farms, specialize in producing grass fed beef and pasture raised pork because they believe in its health and taste benefits. Murray was kind enough to take us on a hay ride to see the beautiful farm he and his wife have created. After the tour, Jenna Mobley, a
garden educator from Atlanta Public Schools, taught two workshops. Her workshops addressed how both mobile cooking carts and school gardens can be used to engage with students and to accomplish curriculum goals. The workshop attendees participated in sample cooking and garden lessons, during which they taste-tested apple varieties, prepared a kale salad, explored Grassfed Farms’ garden space, and readied radish, carrot, and lettuce seeds for planting. Jenna explained strategies for integrating state standards into cooking and garden lessons, managing the unique classroom environments that kitchens and gardens present, and planning a manageable school garden. She also shared many of the resources and nuggets of knowledge acquired in her eight years of garden-based education experience.
A Garden for Wellness, a wellness center located in Clarkesville, catered lunch. A salad of kale, cranberries, carrots, and nuts accompanied a butternut squash soup, an appropriate meal for the breezy afternoon.
After the workshops, the mini-grant recipients participated in the most exciting activity of the day: the distribution of their mobile cooking carts and garden kits! The Rabun County elementary, middle, and high schools each received a mobile cooking cart, which included an induction burner, blender, saucepan and skillet, kid-safe nylon knives, and a number of other tools. From Habersham County, Cornelia Elementary, Level Grove Elementary, and Habersham Central High School each received a school garden kit and individual teacher kits. The kits included a school garden planning resource, shovels, trowels, garden forks, and seeds, among other goodies.
NEGA Farm to School will continue to provide support to each school’s mini-grant teams throughout the rest of the year, providing both technical and curriculum support when needed. Each school also has the support of a FoodCorps service member, who will be working in the schools with their mini-grant teams to ensure the successful implementation of the mini-grants. The schools’ successes will be highlighted at the Farm to School Celebration and Showcase on December 10th.