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Georgia education leaders tour Warren County's Farm to Table program, tapping for statewide program

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) - State education leaders made a trip to Warren County to see the success of the school district's Farm to Table program.  

Warren County High School CTAE Director Scott Richardson led the group discussion and tour, which started in the school's media center and took Georgia Department of Education officials through each phase of the program. 

Phase One started in a greenhouse next to the school. 

"This is where the elementary school students begin their education in agriculture," he informed the GADOE leaders, local farmers and some students. 

Phases Two and Three are outdoor beds with more corps, including fruit. 

Warren County High School spent the past two years in seed time and harvest time.  The success of the Career Technical and Agricultural Education program grew to the state level where leaders took the drive from Atlanta to see it for themselves. 

Cheryl Clemons, GADOE CTAE Program Director, was among a small number from the state in attendance. 

"When we can actually look in the classroom or hear a teacher and students talk about what they do and then we actually walk out and see they've learned perimeter, they've learned area, they've learned optimization.  That's what it's all about," she said.

NewsChannel 6 first told you about Warren County's Farm to Table program back in 2016 with then Sophomore Sandiya Johnson.  She told us of the greenhouses, "When we first came out here, this was gravel, big rocks, gravel.  We built all this wood, the soil.  We built all this."

That's when high school students laid the foundation for the greenhouses and elementary students planted the seeds. 

Local farmer Missy Garner partnered with the school, awarding grants for the farm's water line, soil and plants.  It's a partnership that yields nutritious foods such as broccoli, spinach, kale and strawberries that goes right back into the county. 

"They need the educational, math and science that is incorporated in with the growing of the vegetables.  It just makes me feel good to be able to help these students learn," said Warren County Soil and Water Conservation Commission Supervisor Missy Garner.

"Now, we're farming on two and a half acres of land, growing grapes, growing blueberries, growing corn, growing sweet potatoes to work towards that self-sustainability," Richardson added.

Trevor Roberson is Warren County High School's Principal.  Looking back on the past two years, he said he is amazed at the work. 

"I would never have thought that our kids would be excited about this type of thing.  I even have one student who is interested in going to college to major in agriculture. But to see them out there planting, to see them out there weeding, and then to see the payoff with the food being taken from where we're growing into the cafeteria for the kids to eat is just pretty amazing."

Georgia DOE officials told NewsChannel 6 that after the tour and talk that the Farm to Table program would be taken back to the director.  It has the potential to receive a DOE grant and be used as a regional or statewide model to spread to other parts of the state. 

Richardson told NewsChannel they are also looking into expanding the Farm to Table program to include an apple orchard. 


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