The Farm 2 School program at Wilbanks Middle School here in Habersham County Georgia is a pilot program for our local school district, and other districts throughout the state, with the main goal of providing fresh and nutritious meal options to the school children in our community while at the same time supporting our local farmers. Additionally the organizers have been working on several goals they would like to achieve throughout this first year.
The first of these goals is the creation of a model for other schools in our district and state to use in implementing their own Farm 2 School program. We want to provide them with ideas, information and encouragement to help them establish a successful program in their own school, with the ultimate result being that every school in our district will eventually be providing fresh, nutritious meal options to the all children of our community.
The second goal is to provide our students with three taste tests throughout the year, including locally grown food provided by local farmers for two of the taste tests, and food grown by our very own students for the final taste test. To help the students in providing the produce for the May taste test the program has provided three raised beds per grade level in which the students are growing a salad mix. Each grade level is responsible for caring for their garden space, and we hope that this ‘buy-in’ will encourage students to eat the salad that will be available to them in May.
Other goals include increasing the number of raised beds that are currently available by building four additional wooden beds and creating a rabbit area where we can collect manure to add to the gardens. Additionally we are currently in the process of implementing a composting program where we collect fruits and vegetables from our lunchroom to compost in one of our composting bins built by the students themselves. By involving the students in every aspect of the experience we hope they will feel invested in the program and learn to make their own healthy food choices.
And last but not least we are planing several adult community classes to provide information about how parents and community members can become involved with the Farm 2 School program as well as starting and utilizing their own personal home gardens. The first class “How To Start and Maintain A Spring Garden” will be held on March 25 at Wilbanks Middle School cafeteria beginning at 7:00 pm with a good line-up of speakers and topics.