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GROWING INTEREST

South Boston News
A fifth grader at Meadville Elementary School tends a plot where students grew kale, turnips and broccoli in the fall. The Farm-to-School Program is expected to be implemented once again in fifth grade in county schools this year. Virginia Agriculture magazine featured the image above in an article on the success of school food-and-farm programs. (Contributed photo)
SoVaNow.com / February 05, 2018
Halifax County’s Farm-to-School Program has been recognized for its success in educating young students on where food comes from — and how to grow it.

Virginia Agriculture magazine, in its latest edition, features the local program in a review of school food-to-table programs — making Halifax County one of only three such programs to be recognized.

Included with the piece are two photographs of students in the program at Meadville Elementary School. Fifth graders there spent the fall growing crops of kale, turnips and broccoli in a small parcel behind the school that had been provided for them by a local land owner.

The other programs featured by Virginia Agriculture magazine are in Rappahannock and Loudoun counties.

Kimley Blanks, Ag Director for Halifax County, was quoted in the magazine’s article saying that the Farm to School Program “makes Halifax County a very proactive agriculture community from our youth all the way up to our farmers and processors. It gives a taste of what agriculture means and opens their eyes to potential and opportunity.” The more than 400 fifth graders participating in the program last year heard from local growers and tasted food grown by local farmers. Interestedly, the fifth graders voted sweet potato and spinach quesadillas as their favorite sweet potato dish (they also enjoyed sweet potato smoothies).

The tastings followed remarks by guest speakers who talked about what goes into growing sweet potatoes. The magazine said students were apparently surprised to find that the sweet potato grows underground, and were fascinated by how it’s harvested, its nutritional value and what buying locally means.

Blanks said the students enjoyed learning about growing local crops. “Their faces are all focused on the person giving the farm lesson. The students are raising their hands, talking and discussing. It’s exciting to see them learning and taking it in.”

The Halifax County Farm to School program is supported by the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service, the local soil and water district and Halifax County Agricultural Development, and Halifax County Public Schools.

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