Waynesboro, GA—   A -big- visit in the ‘boro.

First Lady Michelle Obama met with some students at Burke County Middle School today as part of her American Garden Tour. She got a first hand look at the difference fresh produce makes in the classroom, and beyond.

The First Lady and the weatherman…  Michelle Obama and Al Roker joined these Burke County students, who took time out of their spring break to come back to school!                                                               

Al Roker helps plant cucumbers and peppers at the rural school's garden.

Roker said, “Weather and gardening go hand-in hand. It takes rain and sun and a good forecast like we have today.”

Eight years ago, Mrs. Obama planted the first kitchen garden at the White House since World War II, so she was happy to help plant cucumbers & peppers in the middle school garden today.

“You all are leading the way in farm-to-school programs.  You’re using it in your classrooms.  You’re eating healthier school lunches.  And it’s having a good impact on your education and on your overall health.”

It’s a STEM-based learning garden that supports their “End Hunger Games” project.

Donna Martin, the school system's Director of Nutrition introduces the First Lady to the 20 students selected to show what they're learning about gardening.

Donna Martin is the Director of Nutrition for Burke County schools.

“They said they would grow the food and give it to the food banks. They were doing math today- plotting out in the garden- 20 plants to put in, so you mark it off so it just all goes together.”

Since implementing the Farm-to-School program, the number of kids eating school lunches has jumped to 89%. And listen to this: by offering local, fresh produce, 65 different types, by the way, Martin says the students are eating –twice– as many fruits and vegetables.

“People think there’s a lot of waste. We don’t waste food because we give them lots of choices, and when they get to pick their food, they pick what they like and they eat it.”

They’re growing food on planet Earth today… but in their lifetime, who knows where these skills will take them?  Mrs. Obama said seeds from her garden are going into space!

“They’re going to blast off some seeds to the International Space Station, where they’re going to grow cabbage and some of the stuff that we’re growing in the White House Kitchen Garden, just to prove that you can garden anywhere.”

Mrs. Obama put Burke County in the spotlight as an example of a successful rural school garden.   She left Waynesboro for a Newark, New Jersey, to visit an urban school with a rooftop garden and indoor growing lab.