Chestnut Charter and Vanderlyn elementary schools have won two of eight Farm-to-School Grants Georgia Organics plans to award to DeKalb County schools this month.
The six other schools selected for the grants will be announced this week, according to Erin Croom, Farm to School coordinator at Georgia Organics. None are in Dunwoody, according to a list provided by Croom.
The grant to Chesnut is for $2,300 and the one to Vanderlyn is for $455.
Georgia Organics received the money for the grants from the DeKalb County Board of Health through a Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) grant. The goal of CPPW is to make healthy choices – such as preventing obesity -- easier by promoting environmental changes at the local level. Obesity and tobacco use are the two leading preventable causes of death and disability, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Vanderlyn will use its funds to teach children about the food cycle and to promote carrots, according to parent volunteer Tina Wilkinson. Carrots are the DeKalb County Farm to School vegetable of the month for March.
Vanderlyn health teacher Kelly Dwyer will incorporate lessons on the nutritional value of carrots into the health curriculum and school Media Specialist Kathleen Disney will purchase several books and DVDs on seed-to-farm-to-plate topics.
Chesnut will use its grant to demonstrate that eating nutritious, locally grown food is easy and delicious, said parent volunteer Angela Renals. The school will do that by simulating a farmer’s market with a chef demonstration of a healthy snack at its annual field day in May.
Local organic farmer Dave Bentoski from D and A Farms and local pizza baker S&J’s Woodfired Pizza will team up to produce a variety of healthy pizzas they will offer to the Chesnut student body and staff at Field Day. S&J’s Woodfired Pizza will bake the pizzas onsite using toppings provided by D and A Farms as well as fresh herbs and vegetables grown and harvested by Chesnut students in the school’s organic garden.
After students have sampled the different pizzas, they will “shop” at the farmer’s stand where the grant will allow each student to take home (free of charge) one serving of the featured produce in a re-usable shopping bag, along with a pizza recipe, the DeKalb County Wellness Policy and information about local farmers markets and pick-your-own farms.
Chesnut Changers Ecology Club students from all grades will help Bentoski run the farm stand when their class visits. During that time the students - who have been promoting DeKalb County’s Farm to School food of the month in the cafeteria - will share with their classmates what they have learned about how seasonal produce is grown, why it’s nutritious and why eating locally matters.
Some of the information the students will share is that eating locally grown food minimizes pollution, conserves energy, keeps local farmers in business and provides consumers with highly nutritious fresh food.
The grant application pointed out that the concept of an outdoor farmers market with fresh produce is a departure from previous Field Days and other school events where the food tended to be highly processed and highly sweetened. The goal that the grant will help accomplish, the application said, is to associate a day of athleticism and outdoor play, or a night of family fun with healthy eating rather than sugary drinks, cotton candy and artificially buttered popcorn.
As an example that students and staff would support the concept of healthy pizzas, the grant application showed how the county’s new monthly Farm to School lunch items have been a hit.
Chesnut students like fresh veggies versus processed and canned versions, the application emphasized. On Georgia-grown Broccoli Day, Chesnut’s cafeteria couldn’t serve broccoli fast enough!
With this experience as a background, the idea for the simulated farmers market and chef demonstration at Field Day was created by Chesnut Changers parent co-sponsor Renals and Elizabeth Davis, garden team parent leader Carissa Malone and third grade teacher Christen Ramo, a Master Gardener and teacher sponsor of the Chesnut Changers Ecology Club. They took the idea to Coach Lonny Dykema for approval because he organizes the schedule for the school's field day. Dykema immediately liked the idea and offered to fit it into the rotation of events.
The parent volunteers and Ramo then presented the idea to Chesnut Principal Dr. Richard Reid. He liked the idea as well and wrote a letter of support for the program, which was a requisite for the grant application.
Three leaders in the Farm to School programs in Dunwoody schools, a high school student and two parent volunteers, have been invited to speak at next week's Third Annual Georgia Farm to School Summit in Columbus
The summit is the largest meeting of farm to school leaders in the state. It will be from 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Friday, Feb. 24 in the Georgia Convention and Trade Center in the Historic Iron Works in Columbus.
Danny Kanso, a senior at Dunwoody High school, will present a program from 1-2 p.m. on Grow Dunwoody, a program he founded to incorporate or enhance organic gardens at all Dunwoody cluster schools. Kanso will explain how to start an organic gardening program including F2S initiatives, at secondary schools and incorporate gardening and sustainability activities into approved school curriculums.
Angel Renals and Elizabeth Davis, parent co-sponsors of the Chesnut Changers Ecology Club, will talk about the successes of Chesnut’s organic gardening program during a 10-minute after-lunch break-out session.
Their talk will focus on the monthly Farm to School food promotion that offers locally grown fruit and vegetables in Chesnut’s cafeteria, how they use the Chesnut Changers blog to encourage support and participation in the school’s organic gardening and sustainability programs and how Chesnut’s gardening initiatives involve all the classes in the school and give back to the community. During their presentation, they will share the educational tools they use and lessons they’ve learned along the way.
The summit is open to school nutrition staff, teachers, farmers, students, parents, school nurses, community members, state and agencies and organizations and anyone interested in growing the farm to school program in Georgia. It will be presented by the Georgia Farm to School Alliance and hosted by Georgia Organics.
The registration fee, which will include an organic lunch, is $40 for Georgia Organics members and $48 for non-members. Online registration is available at: http://www.georgiaorganics.org/conference/2012Register.aspx
The Summit will be held at the same time as the 15th annual Friday-Saturday Georgia Organics Conference. For more information about the conference, visit: http://www.georgiaorganics.org/conference.aspx