NORTH FORSYTH — Many schools throughout Forsyth County have community gardens to promote healthy eating initiatives. One has a few chickens, which produce eggs used in the cafeteria.
But a north Forsyth school raised the bar earlier this month when it brought in a live cow and mobile dairy truck to teach students about food sources.
The Mobile Dairy Classroom visited Coal Mountain Elementary on Sept. 8 as part of the school’s inaugural year of its Farm to School program.
Students in kindergarten through second grade went to the 30-foot truck that features a fully operational milking parlor, containing a live cow used for milking and feeding demonstrations.
The goal of the program is to provide children with a better understanding of where milk and dairy products come from, how they are processed, the healthy benefits of consuming dairy products and the farmer’s management of natural resources, according to Milkcow.org.
During a 24- to 45-minute presentation, students life cycles, animal feeding, nutrition, lactation cycles, the milking process and a variety of dairy cow breeds.
They also got an overview of food products that originate from milk, vitamins and minerals from dairy products and the “overall importance of dairy products as a part of a healthy diet.”
“We’re trying to bring more locally owned farms to school healthy eating into the lunchroom, and teach the kids that healthy can taste good,” said Denise Webb, science and engineering teacher at Coal Mountain.
In its first year of the program, Coal Mountain has built 14 raised gardening beds through a partnership with North Forsyth High’s agriculture department. North’s culinary students cooked harvested foods with the elementary school to prove healthy foods can taste good.
The garden actually began three years ago, Webb said, with help from Suzanne Geddes, her Green Team Mom who helps maintain the garden program.
“We sampled green smoothies in our Discovery Lab. We have kale and greens from the garden, and we add different fruits to it and the kids taste that,” Webb said. “Even though it’s green it tastes good. We send the recipes home through a newsletter.
“It has been a big hit. We have parents calling back asking for more recipes.”
Webb also shows students how much sugar is in food and drinks like soda.
“It amazed them to see if they drink a Coke a day for a year, how much sugar it is. It’s a positive thing. Parents are calling saying they’re asking for 100 percent juice,” Webb said. “It’s connected to the home, which is our goal.”