by Angel Mills

Entrance of Burgess Peterson Academy’s School Garden

By Angel Mills

Burgess Peterson Academy’s (BPA) celebrated the tenth anniversary of its fruit tree orchard and garden on April 12 at its pre-K-5 campus in East Atlanta.

Students, teachers, parents, and community members participated in the celebration, which included a full day of events – starting with a half-day teacher training in the afternoon followed by a free fruit tree planting class taught by Robby Astrove (Ranger Robby), and a community potluck in the evening.

Georgia Organics partnered with Community Farmers Markets (CFM) to host a skills-based training for BPA teachers and parents. CFM’s Director of Education Programs and Outreach Jenna Mobley led the training. She shared approximately 15-20 Georgia standards based lessons teachers can use to integrate the school garden, orchard, cooking, and taste tests into curriculum lessons.

“It was really special to have so many teachers from BPA here today,” Jenna said. “This really shows that every single faculty member here is invested in this work!”

Some of the learning activities Jenna taught included:

  • Reflective writing exercises focused around student experiences in the garden and orchard
  • Encouraging students to track planting, ripening, and harvesting progress on a classroom calendar
  • Incorporating kinesthetic activity by teaching students various movements to associate with the growing process
  • Asking students questions while in the garden to engage all five of their senses
  • Playing games like the “pollinator and plant” matching activity to help students identify food plants and the animals that pollinate them.
  • Challenging students to quantify their observations by bringing measuring tools into the garden to track changes and differences over time

Fun Pro Tip:

When doing a taste test encourage students to take a “no thank you” bite if they are hesitant to try new foods. – Source: Erin Croom

Teachers participating in a “apple variety” taste test.

“I learned a lot about how we can integrate the garden into our curriculum and teaching. I have special education kids and these examples I got are a new way for me to teach my students.” – Workshop Participant and BPA Educator, Sonia Mair, Ph.d.

Burgess Peterson Academy’s Orchard

BPA, CFM, and Georgia Organics proudly welcomed the return of Coach Betty Jackson and former Parent Teacher Association President Chrisman (Chris) Hampton to the training and subsequent festivities. Coach Jackson was a storied P.E. teacher at BPA and worked with Georgia Organics’ Erin Croom, current Georgia Organics Board Chair and Farmer Joe Reynolds of Love is Love Farm, and the Southeast Atlanta neighborhood association to receive assistance in securing the funding to develop BPA’s now blossoming garden, orchard, and playground equipment.

“It’s so important to have a good support system,” Coach Jackson told attendees during her presentation detailing the history of the garden and orchard.

While Coach Jackson worked tirelessly to complete lengthy grant applications, volunteers like former BPA PTA President Chris and a host of other volunteers including master gardeners Michelle Rice, Adam Waterson, and Ranger Robby worked to build the garden and orchard and later it’s water conservation system. Chris fondly remembers lugging dirt and other heavy gardening items as well as accepting shipments of ordered items when Coach Jackson was unable to do so. He called the garden and orchard development process “hard work” but a “labor of love”. “Coach Jackson was like a mad scientist, you never knew what was going on until it was finished,” he said. “When it was finished I said ohhhh that’s what we were doing.” He explained that he was happy to help out and see the finished product.

Numerous chefs including Chef Todd Richards of Richards Southern Fried and friend of the Cast Iron and Collards Society visited the school throughout Coach Jackson’s tenure there. These chefs led farm to plate cooking lessons teaching students how to harvest produce from the garden and transform it into a delicious meal.

Coach Jackson retired in 2015, and is very pleased with the progress of the garden and orchard throughout the past 10 years. “It’s just really a good site,” she said. “They have expanded the garden and it’s so much more cohesive. You can tell where everything else and everything’s growing.” Coach Jackson even mentioned that she planned to pick a few items and take them home for herself!

Today, BPA’s orchard and garden are truly flourishing. School administrators have even added a chicken coop to the garden with approximately 12 chickens inside. Students now work in the garden and orchard as part of their learning plans.

Burgess Peterson Academy’s School Garden Chicken Coop

There are a lot of really wonderful resources out there that help kids of all ages learn what they need to through hands-on nutrition and agriculture education. Our Georgia Organics Farm to School team has compiled several for you. Click HERE to check them out.

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The Seventh Georgia Farm to School and Early Care and Education Summit will be hosted June 7-8 at Helms College in Macon, Ga. Registration is open NOW.

The farm to early care and education (farm to ECE) and farm to school movement connects early care providers, schools, and local farms in an effort to serve healthy meals and snacks, improve student nutrition, and increase farm and gardening educational opportunities. This year’s Summit welcomes early care providers and staff, teachers, school nutrition staff, students, parents, farmers, distributors, and others interested in learning more about Georgia’s farm to ECE and  farm to school community.

2019 Golden Radish Awards

The 2019 Golden Radish Application is Open!

APPLY HERE

About the Golden Radish Award Application Process

1. Review the Award Criteria for your size district/LEA:

Criteria for School Districts and LEAs of 1-2 Schools

Criteria for School Districts and LEAs of 3-15 Schools

Criteria for School Districts and LEAs of 16-50 Schools

Criteria for School Districts and LEAs of 51 or More Schools

2. Review the Golden Radish Award Criteria Explanations. Interested in learning more about how other LEAs met the criteria in prior years? Click here to view best practices from the 2018 Golden Radish Awardees.

3. Collect relevant district-wide information and documentation for award criteria. Be sure to provide information on how your district works with sustainable and/or Certified Organic farms, innovative ways you partner with your community or utilize your school gardens, and any extraordinary farmers you work with to be eligible for an additional Best Practice Award. Note: Honorary Radishes are awarded to programs that satisfy at least 1 criterion within the Bronze level or higher. Districts are only be eligible to receive an Honorary award for two years.

4.  Apply online here. For planning purposes, you may download a word document version of the 2019 Application.

5. Questions? Review these Frequently Asked Questions or contact Farm to School Director Kimberly Della Donna at [email protected] for more information.