CHIPLEY -- A harvest of agriculture awareness is the goal of one fall campaign.
October is National Farm to School Month.
Driven by various organizations and supported by Congress since 2010, Farm to School promotes rural development, agriculture education and healthy nutrition by encouraging school districts to engage students in agriculture-related activities and serve locally grown foods at schools.
Chartwells, Washington County School District food service provider, hosted a farmers market at Vernon Elementary School. Students were given play money to spend on fresh produce.
"A lot of kids didn't know what a squash was or a cucumber," said Chartwells Assistant Director Brandy Vaughn. "We try to bring the farm to the table."
At the Oct. 16 event, VES students bought 120 pounds of apples, 80 pounds of cucumbers, 80 pounds of bananas, 40 pounds of potatoes, 40 pounds of yellow squash and 40 pounds of oranges.
"We do this so (students) can see how (their food) goes from local fields -- farmers -- to the table," Vaughn said regarding the farmers market. "We like to educate our students about how food is locally grown."
In the 2013-14 school year, of the school district's $733,557 food costs, $193,344 was spent on local foods, including fluid milk, the United States Department of Agriculture Farm to School Census reports. The school district defined "local" as being produced within the region.
About 45-percent of schools in Florida, the report states, participate in the Farm to School federal program, which encourages schools districts to provide locally grown foods to students year round. The program has had such an impact that about 62-percent of state school districts now have their own gardens.