By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Tuesday, December 8, satsuma farmer Jeremy Sessions joined Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries Commissioner John McMillan (R); the Administrator of the Child Nutrition Program for the Alabama Department of Education, Frank Speed; the Director of the Farm to School Program, Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries Don Wambles; Alabama Farmers Federation Horticulture Division Director, Mac Higginbotham, Principal Michelle Harris; and the Executive Director of the Food Bank of North Alabama Kathryn Strickland at Dalraida Elementary School where students ate satsumas with their lunch and then had an opportunity to meet the farmer who grew those fruits. The Tuesday event was part of the state’s Farm-To-School initiative.
Administrator Speed said, “These pioneering farm-to-plate programs offer tremendous economic development opportunities to growers throughout Alabama, and provide access to healthy, fresh produce for the state’s school children.”
According to information provided by the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries the initiative represents a collaboration among the Alabama Department of Education, Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries, the Food Bank of North Alabama, Alabama Cooperative Extension and Alabama Farmers Federation to promote locally grown fruits and vegetables in Alabama public school cafeterias.
Commissioner McMillan said, “All of these entities working together results in additional markets for Alabama farmers and fresh, local produce for Alabama’s children.”
Satsumas are one of the sweetest citrus fruits. The fruit is grown in Southern Alabama and ripens mid-November to mid-December. These fruits are brought into Alabama schools as a way to introduce students to eat healthier locally grown produce.
On Tuesday, Dalriada Elementary students had an opportunity to meet with Jeremy Sessions the satsuma farmer who grew the fruit they were served at lunch. Sessions will share with the students learn about his farm and the process of growing and harvesting satsumas.
Sessions said, “It is great knowing that Alabama school kids are enjoying fresh fruit from my family’s farm.”
Agriculture and Forestry remain the largest industries in Alabama, as they have been throughout the State’s history. Far fewer Alabamians however actually live on farms so don’t have the same connection to where our food comes from that previous generations of Alabama school children had.