The Gift of Turnips

by FoodCorps Service Member Susie Burton

As y’all might have noticed, the Northeast Georgia Farm to School blog went silent for the past couple of weeks.  Our staff enjoyed a bit of time off over the holidays, and we hope y’all did, too, cozying up with good food and good people.

I stayed warm and fuzzy all break long, just by reminiscing about Chuck and Amy Mashburn’s visit to Level Grove Elementary.  For those who might not have had the immense pleasure of meeting Chuck and Amy (or of trying trying Amy’s incredible Burmese peanuts), they farm at Mill Gap Farm in Rabun County.  In addition to growing and preparing some of the best food in Northeast GA (I’m not kidding about those peanuts, y’all), Chuck and Amy actively support farm to school programming in the area, and have done so since NEGA F2S’ inception.

They visited LGES’ fourth grade students a few weeks ago, bringing along gorgeous photos of Mill Gap Farm and even more gorgeous hakurei turnips for tasting.  The visit formed an extension for a writing project the fourth graders completed in November, persuading readers to shop locally for their food. After learning and writing about the benefits of knowing your farmer, students actually got to know a farmer, asking Chuck and Amy all sorts of questions about their land, their growing practices, and their decision to sell locally.

The best part of the visit (at least in Ms. Susie’s hungry opinion) came when we all got to taste the hakurei turnips, both raw and some that Amy sautéed with the greens, butter, salt, and pepper.  After over a year of taste tests, LGES students know the benefits of a “try things” attitude, and oh boy, were there benefits!  It required several servings of both the sautéed and raw turnips to decide, but raw turnips won the day with the fourth graders, who decided to ask our cafeteria staff to consider putting them on the lunch line.

This kind of concrete learning opportunity–in which students get a tangible experience that connects directly to what they learn in the classroom, and then use that experience to advocate for locally-sourced turnips on the lunch line–is a Farm to School dream.

A thousand thanks to Chuck and Amy for making that dream come true.  If you’re considering trying some hakurei turnips for yourself, Mill Gap Farm sells on the year-round, online Northeast Georgia Locally Grown Market.

(Don’t forget Amy’s Burmese peanuts. Seriously. Not a joke. Y’all have got to try the peanuts.)

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Chuck shows students photos of Mill Gap Farm, while Amy chops and sautés 

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Amy’s incredible knife skills+the fancy new tools in our mobile cooking cart=turnip magic

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4th grade teacher Brandi Burrell can’t pass out seconds of raw turnips fast enough

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Eager hands shoot up in response to that enticing questions, “Who wants more?”

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