Haralson County first grade classes visited Caldwell Farms in Rockmart, Ga.

Georgia’s Departments of Agriculture, Education and Public Health, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension and Georgia Organics came together at the historic Georgia Railroad Freight Depot to celebrate over 40 percent of Georgia school districts with outstanding farm to school programs. Seventy-five school districts, serving more than one million students in Georgia, are now participating in farm to school.  These districts served more than 97 million school meals with local food items during the 2016-17 school year.

The Golden Radish Award publicly recognizes school districts for all aspects of farm to school, from local food procurement to hosting taste tests and gardening with students. This year, the Golden Radish partners awarded 26 new school districts and welcomed a new partner-UGA Extension. “UGA Extension is so excited to promote healthy eating habits and incorporate Georgia’s great agricultural food products into our school lunchrooms,” said Associate Dean for UGA Extension at the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Laura Perry Johnson. “This is a natural partnership that benefits us as well as the school kids who get to enjoy these tasty and nutritious products.”

Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black and Executive Director of Georgia Organics Alice Rolls congratulate 75 school districts on winning a Golden Radish Award for excellence in farm to school.Districts of all sizes are utilizing farm to school programs to teach academic standards in school gardens, support the local economy through local food purchases for school meals, and fight childhood obesity and other preventable food-related diseases. “Access to fresh, locally grown food is not just important for students’ physical health – it’s part of their academic development as well,” said State Superintendent Richard Woods. “When children eat fresh, healthy meals, they have the fuel they need for a successful day of learning.”

Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary W. Black notes that while farm to school efforts support academic achievement, they also help build a strong agricultural economy. “Feed My School For a Week, Georgia Grown Test Kitchen and the Golden Radish Awards are all great ways for school nutrition to support Georgia producers, and we are excited as to what current and future award winners will accomplish as we work toward our 2020 Vision for School Nutrition in Georgia.”

Third graders at Dalton school grew, harvested, and prepared Brussels sprouts for a taste test. The class was then polled for opinions on whether they liked how they were served.Department of Public Health Commissioner J. Patrick O’Neal, M.D. champions healthy food access for children and supports farm to school efforts. “The vitamins, minerals and health benefits from local fresh fruit and vegetables, not only allow our children to be physically healthy, but research has shown that healthy eating is also key to brain development,” said Commissioner O’Neal. “Here in Georgia, we are leading the nation in identifying ways to increase early brain development, and healthy nutrition is an enormous part of that.”

Georgia Organics founded the state’s first farm to school program in 2007. Since then, communities across the state have embraced the benefits of bringing students and fresh, local food closer together.  “It’s astounding that over 40 percent of our school districts are actively involved in The Golden Radish Awards after only four years of establishing the program,” stated Georgia Organics Executive Director Alice Rolls. “This is an exciting trajectory given farm to school’s impact on child nutrition, farmer prosperity, rural development, local economies and public health.”

During the 2016-2017 school year, Golden Radish school districts collectively:

  • Served over 97 million meals that featured locally grown and raised foods
  • Conducted 8,204 taste tests
  • Taught 7,263 standards based lessons
  • Tended 885 school gardens
  • Engaged students in 3,794 hands on cooking activities
  • Involved parents and community members in 1,339 farm to school activities 

The 2016-17 school year was a record breaking year of farm to school growth in Georgia, and all participants were thrilled to celebrate at the Golden Radish Awards.

The 75 school systems being recognized are:

Burke County Public School System’s School Nutrition Director, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics President, and Gold level Golden Radish Awardee Donna Martin shares her experience leading farm to school efforts as the 2016 Golden Radish Outstanding District. Martin announced the 2017 Outstanding District winner and presented the award to Vanessa Hayes, School Nutrition Director of Tift County Schools.Platinum Level

Barrow County School System

Carrollton City Schools

Cherokee County School District

Clarke County School District

Fulton County Schools

Jackson County Schools

Laurens County Schools

Sumter County Schools

Tift County Schools


Gold Level

Atlanta Public Schools

Baldwin County School District

Bartow County School System

Bleckley County Schools

Burke County Public Schools

City Schools of Decatur

Cobb County School District

Columbia County School Nutrition

Dougherty County School System

Effingham County School System

Elbert County School District

Fannin County School System

Fayette County Public Schools

Gwinnett County Public Schools

Habersham County Schools

Hart County Schools

Treutlen County Schools 

Henry County Schools

Newton County Schools

Warren County Public Schools


The 2017 Golden Radish Award ceremony was attended by over 330 school nutrition leaders, school administrators, teachers and farm to school supporters from across the state of Georgia to celebrate excellence in farm to school. The ceremony was hosted by the Golden Radish Award Committee: Georgia Organics, Georgia Departments of Agriculture, Education, Public Health and University of Georgia ExtensionSilver Level

Crawford County Schools

DeKalb County School District

Floyd County Schools

Forsyth County Schools

Gainesville City School System

Madison County School District

Paulding County School District

Savannah-Chatham County Public School System

Toombs County Schools


Tift County was presented with the 2017 Golden Radish Outstanding District at the Golden Radish Award Ceremony. Tift County Superintendent of Schools Patrick Atwater and School Nutrition Director Vanessa Hayes received the award from Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black, Georgia Organics Executive Director Alice Rolls, Georgia Department of Health Commissioner Dr. J. Patrick O’Neal, UGA Associate Dean for Extension Dr. Laura Perry Johnson and Georgia State Superintendent of Schools Richard Woods.Bronze Level

Buford City Schools

Carroll County Schools

Coffee County School System

Dade County Schools

Dalton Public Schools

Douglas County School System

Lee County School System

Marietta City Schools

Mitchell County Schools

Morgan County Charter School System

Murray County Schools

Muscogee County School District

Richmond County
Valdosta City Nutrition Program
Wayne County

White County
Worth County School District


USDA Southern Regional Office Food and Nutrition Services staff celebrate excellence in Georgia’s farm to school programs during the 2017 Golden Radish Award Ceremony.Honorary

Banks County School System

Butts County School System

Calhoun City School System

Clayton County Public Schools

Dawson County School System

Emanuel County School System

Franklin County Schools

Glascock County School System

Haralson County Schools

Hall County Schools

Johnson County

Lincoln County School District

Lowndes County Honorary

Lumpkin County School System

Miller County Board of Education

McIntosh County Schools

Rockdale County Public Schools

Stephens County

Whitfield County Schools

Wilkinson County Board of Education