Students and teachers at Tallahassee’s Fort Braden Elementary School had the chance to try some fresh produce grown by a local farm located in nearby Coolidge, Georgia a couple weeks ago as part of our Farms to Leon County Schools project. They had a delicious white Russian kale salad with an orange juice based dressing.

This taste test event was all made possible through the USDA Farm to School Grant Program, which challenges students to think about where their food actually comes from.

Florida Impact worked closely with Leon County Schools Food Nutrition Services, Fort Braden School, and nutrition experts from the UF/IFAS Family Nutrition Program to organize the event for the students. Red Hills Small Farm Alliance played a key role in acquiring the local ingredients.

Students were given the chance to vote on the kale salad if they “tried it”, “liked it”, or “loved it” using a ballot box located at the front office, and teachers were encouraged to share a virtual tour of Longview Farms, who shared in-depth about how their farm operates. Students also took home seed kits, a kale coloring sheet, a coloring cook book, erasers shaped like vegetables, stress balls, and toothbrushes all packaged in fruit inspired totes.

We are so thankful for all the partners and volunteers who helped make this event possible. Florida Healthy Kids offered their support in health-beneficial swag for the kids like toothbrushes and stress balls. The Master Gardeners at the UF/IFAS Leon County extension office gave their time to organize and pack the items for the students to take home. Not to mention the months of planning the event with all of the Farm to Fort team. We have all enjoyed building relationships as well as a successful program.

The wellness teacher at Fort Braden, Rebecca Johnson, says she is so glad to be “working together for the WELLness of the students at Fort Braden”! We also heard from the Leon County Schools Food Nutrition Services dietitian, Allie Baker, who said “We’ve enjoyed the opportunity to expand our farm-to-school program through this USDA grant. We’ve been able to work with new partners, have conversations about incorporating more local produce into our school cafeterias, and even prepared a fresh kale salad for students to test at two schools. We look forward to working together in the future.”

Red Hills Small Farm Alliance feels “This has been a great opportunity for the Red Hills Farmers to engage with the local schools to develop a system to provide fresh produce to the cafeterias. We coordinated with a local processor to get the fresh kale to the kitchen staff for final preparation for the taste tests. The farmers are looking forward to developing a continued relationship with the Farm to School program in Leon County and the surrounding counties where our farmers are producing.”

We all look forward to our continued work in bringing fresh, locally grown food into Leon County cafeterias!


Written by Kelli Greene.

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