Several Haywood County Schools, including Jonathan Valley Elementary, Meadowbrook Elementary and North Canton Elementary, are joining other schools, preschools, colleges and individuals across the state of North Carolina in celebrating National Farm to School Month by partnering with local farmers.

Howard and Kathy Taylor, owners of KT’s Orchard and Apiary in Canton, along with Paige and Luke Gilliland, owners of Gilliland Farms in Crabtree, provided education about local foods to over 900 Haywood County students on October 18th, 24th and 25th!

The Taylors presented six apples to the students: Cameo, Suncrisp, Tate’s Best, Crimson Crisp, Yellow Delicious and Braeburn. Each student had the opportunity to taste each apple and vote on which was his/her favorite. Along with this fun taste test the students learned about the 71 varieties of apples grown by the Taylors and overall apple history. Mr. Taylor really gained the attention of the students while discussing the Roxbury Russets history. The Russet apple was the first apple to be grown in America in the 1600s. This dull green apple is crisp but tart and is perfect for making cider. Apples are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and can be a healthy part of any diet.

The Gilliland’s, whose farm primarily raises grass fed beef and lamb, provided an engaging discussion about what it takes to raise livestock. The student’s learned about the process from birth to harvest and how this translates to healthy animal based protein options for a balanced diet. According to the Washington Post, grass fed beef usually has higher concentrations of some nutrients: antioxidants, some vitamins, a kind of fat called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and the long-chain omega-3 fats mostly found in fish. It also has less fat overall than non-exclusively grass fed beef.

This celebration encourages healthy eating and supports farm to school and local food initiatives throughout the state of North Carolina. Haywood County Schools is proud to partner with local and state farmers to serve healthy fresh foods to our students!

For more information about Haywood County Schools Nutrition, please contact Melanie Batchelor, Haywood County Schools Nutrition Supervisor Dietitian at 828-627-1150.

For more information about the North Carolina Farm to School, visit

Submitted by:  Melanie Batchelor, Haywood County Schools Nutrition