Local farmer providing nutritious options for Burke County students

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MIDVILLE, G.A. (WJBF) – A local farmer is making a big impact on students in Burke County. Pete Jackson has been serving fruits and vegetables from his farm to Burke County School for nearly 10 years now.

“Now this plant, in 4 weeks, it’ll be larger than what it is now,” said Pete Jackson, owner of Pete Jackson Farms.

Jackson started growing food for different schools about 8 years ago, but he says farming has always been a family business.

“I reared up on a farm, and I married into another farmer’s daughter and my father passed away, her father passed away and now we living on his farmland,” said Jackson.

Jackson’s farm is made up of 30 acres, but right now he’s using 15 acres to grow different fruits and vegetables.

“At the moment we do collard greens, we have done mustard greens, but in the fall of the year we do a lot of red potatoes, that’s our big seller, we don’t many sweet potatoes, but the school system, they do a lot of red potatoes, and in the spring of the year we do watermelons,” he said.

But it doesn’t stop there. Jackson is looking to expand his farm to add cantaloupes and sweet corn, but he’s well known for his collard greens.

“Our kids love his collards and they know the difference between Pete Jackson Collards that are local and the store bought frozen ones that we get and when they come down the serving line and they see Pete Jackson Collards on the serving line, they always pick them up and the teachers pick up two bowls of the collards,” said Donna Martin.

Jackson says he grows around 100 pounds of collards a month. Donna Martin is the director of the Burke County Board of Education School nutrition. She says the school system first started working with Jackson when they put out an all-call for farmers that could grow food for the schools.

“So we had about 20 farmers show up and Pete Jackson was one of them and he said, I can grow collards and cabbage and watermelon and all these different things,” said Martin.

That was back in 2012, and while working with Burke County Schools, he got the opportunity to farm alongside Michelle Obama.

“I got a call from her on a Friday afternoon and they said the very next week that she was going to come in to plant in our garden and then I called Pete and I asked could you make that happen. So he went out and bought the dirt and got everything ready so when Michelle Obama came in she had plants and trays of plants to plant and he got to meet her,” said Martin.

Martin says he’s even made an impact on the students, by teaching them where their food comes from.

“Sometimes, the kids say we don’t need farmers, we’ve got Walmart, so we really need them to understand that the farmers are what’s feeding our future kids so he has always been the bedrock,” she said.

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