Thanks to a $5,000 grant awarded by the National Farm to School Program to Zachary High School, first- and second-graders at Rollins Place Elementary got to taste various fruit and vegetable recipes, learned how to cultivate their own gardens and pick up tips about how to live a healthy lifestyle during a March 2-3 program.

Agriscience students hosted the program for the youth through a grant they wrote titled, “Zachary Community Schools Growing Knowledgeable About Gardening and Health.”

According to the Farm to School Network, the program enriches the connection communities have with fresh, healthy food and local growers and farmers by changing food purchasing and education practices at schools and preschools.

Zachary High teacher Melissa Brumbaugh said through the program, students gain access to healthy foods and educational opportunities such as school gardens, cooking lessons and farm field trips.

The program also empowers children and their families to make informed food choices while strengthening the local economy and contributing to vibrant communities, she said.

According to Katie Mularz, co-founder and executive director of the Louisiana Farm to School Alliance, farm-to-school activity has blossomed in the state.

“Through collaborative partnerships, we now have supportive state policy so schools can more easily purchase products from local farmers, a Harvest of the Month program, a statewide farm-to-school conference, and we are one of three states participating in the National Farm to School Network’s Seed Change initiative aimed at building capacity for farm-to-school activities and creating long-term sustainability at the state level,” Mularz said.

Rollins Place students got to taste kale smoothies, fruit salad and cucumber sandwiches, planted their own seedlings and saw strawberry plants coming into harvest and learned about water conservation, among other lessons.