On Sept. 17, Atlanta Public Schools was honored with a platinum award for excellence in farm to school at the 2019 Golden Radish Awards at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
APS was among 90 Georgia school districts recognized at this year’s awards ceremony. Collectively, APS and other districts served over 2 million meals featuring local food and tended 4,646 school gardens while conducting 4,432 hands-on food and gardening activities.
Most notable farm-to-school achievements from the 2018-2019 school year include:
- APS students participated in farm-to-school lessons 85,601 times through classroom and hands-on gardening activities.
- APS partnered with the Wylde Center in Edgewood to complete 11 school-wide taste tests featuring local produce, including corn salad and mango avocado salsa.
- In 2019, 52 kindergarten classes visited the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, which features an edible garden exhibit. The Wylde Center in the Edgewood Community Garden hosted 41 class field trips, which featured chickens, a pollinator garden, a rain garden, fruit trees, berry bushes, mushroom logs and compost bins. The Wylde Center also visited more than 500 classrooms and school gardens.
- Lunch at APS includes a daily vegetarian entree and a daily salad bar, known as the APS Salad Bowl, which includes locally grown vegetables.
The Golden Radish Award is given to Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) in Georgia who are doing extraordinary work in farm to school. This work includes best practices in farm-to-school programs, such as local food procurement, exposing students to new foods through taste tests and incorporating gardening and cooking activities in curriculum. LEAs are recognized at five levels. Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze and Honorary Radishes are awarded to recognize LEAs with varying levels of farm to school programs.
Georgia Organics created the Golden Radish Awards in 2015 to raise awareness for Georgia’s emerging farm-to-school programs and share the best practices among awardees. Georgia Organics’ chairs the Golden Radish Committee and facilitates the awards process annually to recognize Farm to School excellence across Georgia.
The award is presented by Golden Radish partners (Georgia Organics, Georgia’s Departments of Agriculture (GDA), Education (GaDOE) and Public Health (GDPH), the Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) and University of Georgia Cooperative Extension (UGA Extension).
“Farm to school teaches our children the importance of food that helps bodies grow healthy and strong and food that promotes learning,” said Kathleen E. Toomey, M.D., M.P.H., commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health. “When children learn as early as possible where their food comes from, they are more likely to eat fresh, nutritious foods that will sustain healthy choices as they grow.”
One of the many ways that APS students participated in hands-on, farm-to-school activities included the 2019 ACE Junior Chef Competition held at Finch Elementary. Justin Chelliah, a student from Smith Elementary, won first place in the competition with his Caribbean lettuce wrap.