Level Grove Elementary – blog

On Friday, February 5th, fifth graders at Level Grove Elementary explored physical and chemical changes by cooking in the classroom. With Habersham County’s FoodCorps service member Susie Burton, students made cheesy turnip green pesto pasta with fresh, locally grown turnip greens. The students boiled, tore, chopped, and cooked, learning science and kitchen skills at the same time. The students also discussed how to talk about new foods in intelligent and respectful ways. Level Grove will host a school-wide turnip green taste test on February 19th, so 5th graders will now be “turnip green experts” and will be able to serve a student leaders during the taste test. Turnip greens are a member of the brassica family, and are delicious when harvested in cool winter weather. Try the recipe at home!

Cheesy Turnip Green Pesto

1 box (13.5 ounces) of pasta

3 cups (chopped) fresh turnip greens

½ cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic (you can do just one if you want to tone the garlic down!)

1/3 cup parmesan cheese

1/8 tsp salt

Cooking instructions:
1. While you are doing steps 2-4, boil water. Once water is boiling, add a pinch of salt and add pasta to the water and cook until tender.

2. Tear up or chop turnip green leaves into very small pieces. Put stems in trash or compost.

3. Shred parmesan cheese.

4. Add turnip greens, parmesan cheese, and other ingredients into food processor. Chop using food processor until all ingredients are completely mixed together. If you don’t have a food processor, you can chop all ingredients very finely and mix well.

5. Toss pesto mixture with cooked pasta. Eat and enjoy!

Grow It! Cook It! Teach It!: Mini-Grant Recipients Receive Training and Resources

IMG_3722A 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. kale saladAfter 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 seedlearning in the gardens 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 garden kit distribution-1County 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.

implementation of the mini-grants.  The schools’ successes will be highlighted at the Farm to School Celebration and Showcase on December 10th.

Summer camp gardens revisited

South Hab Raised Bed

Visiting the South Habersham Middle School 21st Century Project Camp garden.

I took my folks to see the 21st Century Project Camp gardens at South Habersham Middle School before school starts this week. They were impressed!

The corn we planted was taller than me and had big ears of corn on it!  Some of the beans were growing up the corn stalks, just like Miss Carol said they would.

Everything has grown! We took time to clean things up and harvest 2 different shaped tomatoes, 3 different colors of lettuce, yellow and green squash and marigolds.

Remember how I wrote about the squash taking over? Well, it did. The squash plants are crawling everywhere and they are covered with blooms, but there were only 2 edible size squash on them. I remember Miss Ann saying something about pollinators.

The cucumber plants were are all over the place, but they had only a few tiny cucumbers and some ugly, greyish-green ones.  Nothing to eat!

The marigolds are beautiful – and they sure do smell! I’m not sure that they are doing their job of keeping pests away, though. I saw bad bugs – grasshoppers and Japanese Beetles munching on the beans and corn. There were good bugs, too – ladybugs and bumble bees. Yay!

The tomato plants are huge and must’ve shadowed-out the carrots and radishes. I pulled some radishes,  long and skinny, like they were trying to find sunshine. We picked long (roma) tomatoes from one plant and small round (cherry) ones from the other.

The lettuce seemed happy. In one raised bed, it was pale green, in another it was green and red, and in another it was DEEP red.

Instead of taking the vegetables and flowers home with us, we gave them to the school secretary. She was surprised and pleased!

I think the gardens would do even better if I or someone had been there to take care of them. Maybe when school starts, we’ll be able to do that.

Volunteer Training – August 13

We grow, we eat! at Wilbanks Middle School

We grow, we eat! at Wilbanks Middle School

Farm to School (F2S) in Northeast Georgia seeks volunteers to serve during the coming school year as it expands into North Habersham Middle School in Clarkesville and South Habersham Middle School in Cornelia, and continues at Hilliard A. Wilbanks Middle School in Demorest.
Volunteer training is scheduled for Wednesday, August 13 at Wilbanks Middle School from 11:00 AM until 1:00 PM. A light, locally grown lunch will be served.
Volunteers are needed in two areas of F2S. One is to staff taste tests at the middle schools and the other is to assist with the raised-bed gardens at each school.
Taste test volunteers need to be available at least one time during the year between 11:00 AM and 1:30 PM. Staffing a taste test is an opportunity to work with other F2S volunteers, local farmers and chefs while witnessing students experience new food. Duties may include serving Fresh Farm Products or taste test samples, collecting students’ opinions, or creating taste test artwork and voting regimens.
Garden volunteers will work with students, teachers and Food Corps service members to support students growing, harvesting and eating locally grown vegetables. Duties will involve working with students in the planting and care of the garden.
Farm to School volunteers must pass a background check.
To sign-up for the F2S volunteer training, please contact Jennie Inglis, 706-348-754, jringlis60@gmail.com.

Hey – Camp’s over!

The last day of garden camp at South Habersham has come and gone.

            Miss Ann told us how to use a chart that says when to plant something and the number of days until you can harvest it. The corn we planted will be ready in September, the beans in August and the squash that we planted this week, in August or September. The yellow squash that they transplanted before camp is ready to pick. In fact some of it has developed a black rot. We won’t be eating that!

The sky was full of grey clouds and it seemed like it would rain any minute. It did rain, but not until the last 20 minutes of last period after lunch. Whew!

Miss Carol brought in a big pot of carnivorous plants. There was a snail on one of them. It was kind of yeucky and fascinating to watch, all at the same time!

We weeded, of course, and planted the last of the 3 sisters, the squash. These vegetables will be ready when we are back in school. Will we get to see them, harvest them, eat them?

Speaking of eating. We picked a really big zucchini last week and in Ms. Dorsey’s class we baked zucchini bread. Wow! It was really good, but it seemed funny baking with a vegetable.

I’ll miss getting to visit the garden each week, seeing what is new, weeding, and looking for creatures. I hope it is still here when school starts again and that I’ll get to work in it, maybe even pick the corn, beans and squash.

Camp is over! Gotta go!


Mom & Dad –


The squash just keeps getting bigger and bigger! It is taking over the garden (not really), but it is huge and has given us a couple of yellow squash with some zucchinis to come.

Miss Carol helped us see that some of the lettuces that we planted last week are coming up. They are tiny. And, the spinach leaves look like grass. We also saw the red of some of the radishes just poking up above the ground.

Miss Ann talked about companion plants. The pretty yellow marigolds in the corners of the bed are there to keep creatures away. The 3 sisters plan of our garden – corn, beans and squash – is an example of companion planting. Those huge squash leaves are really scratchy, maybe they will keep raccoons away.

The weather was perfect for growing today. Clear and warm. There was dew on the grass, and we had over a half inch of rain since last week. I just wish the wind had been more than “light and variable”. It was hot out there.

Even though we weeded last week, there were plenty more to pull this week. While we were weeding, we saw 3 worms in our raised bed.  We planted the pole beans around the young corn stalks. Those bean seeds look just like the dried beans that we cook with at home. We also planted micro-green seeds in milk jug containers to take home.

I like being in the garden. There is something different every week.  Maybe we can have one at home.

Hey Mom & Dad –


Hey Mom & Dad –

Our garden class today, the second at 21st Century Project Camp, was more exciting than last week. Some of the things we planted are up! The carrots are tiny, so small they look like the other weeds in the raised bed.

We did not do as much in the garden this week, but we had more time to do other things. We weeded, meaning we pulled out a bunch of little bitty plants. We know they are weeds because they are not growing in the places that we planted seeds last week. Planting the different lettuces was easy because the teeny-weeny seeds just need to be in contact with the soil.

We saw some bugs – good ones – in the garden, ants and a mayfly. Also, there are tiny cucumbers and squash on the plants, and the tomatoes are less green than they were. The squash, cucumber and tomato plants have pretty yellow blossoms on them.

Miss Ann told us that there are good and bad bugs. The caterpillars falling from the trees near our raised beds are bad. They are eating the leaves off the trees! I learned about bugs that poop, pollinate, prey and are parasitic.

The conditions at the garden were warmer today than last week with no wind. The clouds were coming and going pretty fast. We’ve had some rain, so the plants seem quite happy.

We had time to write in our garden journals with Miss Carol and read some of the poems. I wonder if we’ll be able to eat anything from the garden soon…



Dear Mom & Dad –


Farm to School’s first day at 21st Century Camp has come and gone. I’ll share with you the first entry in My Garden Journal.

The morning began clear and cool (65 F) and ended partly sunny and warm (80 F). The wind was light and variable, mostly from the west, and we’ve had .9” of rain since last week

I learned, saw and did a lot.

I learned the story of the 3 sisters, corn, pole beans and squash. That will be the centerpiece of our raised bed garden. I learned about safety in the garden, including what to wear to protect myself from the sun, critters and germs. I learned about soil tests from Miss Ann and how to read the numbers on fertilizer bags (nitrogen, phosphate and potassium).

            Miss Carol guided us as we all worked together in the raised bed. I dug the soil to create a mound. Then we planted corn kernels in the mound and marked them using pieces of venetian blinds. I also created a row for the carrots and radishes and planted those seeds. I gathered soil as if we were sending a soil sample to the extension agent. Yesterday we decorated the cover of our journals and today, we made our first entries in them.

            I saw the big, yellow squash blossoms and the tendrils of the cucumber plants. I saw the little green tomatoes and the blossoms of future tomatoes. I saw that the journal has lots of information in it, such as artwork and the legend of the 3 sisters, the results of the soil test for the soil in our raised beds, and poems about gardening.

            It was my first day in the South Habersham Middle School garden. I look forward to seeing what will be differentnext week.

F2S in NE GA goes to Summer Camp!

Get ready. Get set. Summertime!

Farm to School in Northeast Georgia is going to camp this summer at South Habersham Middle School (SHMS) in Cornelia. 21st Century Summer Camp starts next Monday, June 2 for students rising into grades 6 through 9.
Campers (students) will spend the morning at SHMS taking four classes, Monday through Thursday. Cooking is one of the four enrichment classes offered and gardening is part of the cooking class.
Cooking students will work in the garden on Tuesdays. Earlier this spring, students from North Georgia Technical College in Clarkesville built 4 raised beds on the northwest side of the SHMS. The beds are ready for students to create a three sisters companion garden of corn, beans and squash, in the midst of other summer vegetables.
Carol Balaun is our fearless leader in this foray into summer garden programming. She lives north of Cleveland and became a master gardener in 2012. Nancy Barnes, the 21st Century Grant Coordinator at SHMS, is the summer camp coordinator. Denise Dorsey will teach the cooking class and join us in the garden each week. Ann Tipton lives in Sautee and is participating in this project as a part of her Master Gardener training. I, Jennie Inglis, will be “sending letters home” weekly telling you about the fun we will be having with the students.
Pull out your trunk, mark your clothes, tell the dog good-bye. We’re going to 21st Century Summer Camp!
To learn more about Farm to School in Northeast Georgia, visit http://northeastgafarm2schoolwordpress.com

Conference Take Away


The 7th Annual Farm to Cafeteria Conference held in Austin, TX last month was an impressive gathering. Eleven hundred (1100) people attended from all 50 states. The only reason more people did not attend was because the Hilton Hotel could not accommodate any more!
The conference was hosted by the National Farm to School Network, which is an information, advocacy and networking hub for communities working to bring local food sourcing and food and agriculture education into school systems and preschools.
The Network reported that in 1990, there were 6 F2S programs in the country. Today, there are 38, 629, and we here in northeast Georgia are one of those programs.
Jim Hightower, former Texas Commissioner of Agriculture, spoke twice during the conference. During his second speech, he joked about a Texas hardware store whose motto is, “Together, we can do it yourself”. In movements such as F2S, it is often the dedication of a small group of committed individuals that spark change. After attending this conference, one thing is clear to me: we are not alone.
My take-away from the conference was the power and potential offered by Food Corps. Georgia has been selected to participate in the Food Corps program, which means that 7 to 10 Service Members will be working with selected F2S programs across the state. Two Food Corps Service Members will be assigned to F2S in northeast Georgia beginning in September. In general, Service Members:
• Teach kids about what healthy food is and where it comes from

• Build and tend school gardens
• Bring high-quality local food into public school cafeterias
At the conference, Food Corps Service Members were a very present and energetic presence. They were excited about their work and about the fact that Food Corps is coming to Georgia. I feel that with their support of our program in the coming year, we will continue to grow, reaching students not just in the cafeteria but in school gardens, as well.
To learn more about Food Corps, visit https://foodcorps.org.
The website for the National Farm to School Network is http://www.farmtoschool.org.