“Farmer Joe” Bergeron, with the help of school board member Danielle Hale, once again have been recognized for the outstanding educational program that they give (no cost at all to the district) to Forest Hills School in Jackman.

At Somerset Public Health’s most recent annual awards banquet, the 5210 With Farmer Joe program earned a silver star award and his program also was featured for a second year in a row in the center spread of the Let’s Go! annual report. Let’s Go! is a nationally recognized childhood obesity prevention program. The 5210 program encourages five or more fruits and vegetables, two hours or less of recreational screen time (keeping TV/computer out of the bedroom and no screen time for those younger than 2), one hour or more of physical activity and zero sugary drinks with more water and low fat milk.

Farmer Joe helps the school grow fresh vegetables and herbs, both inside and outside, all year long. Farmer Joe also visits the classroom once a week to help students learn to grow food, research various plants and feel, smell and taste the results. Along with this he introduces students to healthy food through cooking demonstrations in the classroom. He has helped them grow more than18 varieties of micro-greens and helped them to appreciate the taste of kale and beets and other less familiar vegetables.

The food service program benefits a great deal from Farmer Joe and Hale’s help. Not only does the food budget get a boost from the tremendous harvest of potatoes, onions, tomatoes, fresh greens etc., but head cook Laura Hall also is able to offer more healthy options and recipes as there is not as much waste from children not having the palette to eat the more healthy choices.

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