Making the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice

Community Leaders

Jeff Murrie

Through the years, we’ve worked with exceptional individuals who understand local challenges facing their communities, and have the passion and the vision to create opportunities where people can make healthy choices where they live, work, learn, play and pray. We’re recognizing these individuals, who have been nominated by their peers and colleagues, to showcase their commitment to making the healthy choice, the easy choice.

When a group of teachers who were writing grants came across a Farm to School grant, they knew it would be the perfect fit for Jeff Murrie, a sixth grade Social Studies teacher at Briggs Elementary in Florence. Written with him in mind, Murrie was happy to become the project lead to engage students in the management, cultivation, and distribution of the food his students grow.

“Seeing that one child who has never had a farming experience,” says Murrie, “they get that wow and amazement seeing something grow and being able to pick a sugar snap pea right off of the vine and eat it right there.”

Murrie aims to motivate and encourage change in how the kids understand and receive their food. His students learn how easy growing your own food can be, and educates them on supporting local farmers. Murrie will soon start doing an after-school Farmer’s Market with the vegetables the students grow, so the community has an opportunity to buy the fresh produce. In the two short years since the project began, the Briggs School Farm has 12 beds, each assigned to a grade level K-6 with one designated for community use. The students are even getting the experience of raising chickens. Separate funds were used to build a chicken coop housing six chickens that lay eggs.

Jennie Peze works with the City of Florence, a partner on the Briggs School Farm. “Jeff pulls people together to do innovative and creative things. People love him for it and look for ways to help with things he is doing.”

The community garden has brought not only the school together, but the surrounding neighborhood residents often stop by to watch the chickens with their children and help with the neighborhood plant bed. In the future, Murrie hopes to get the garden GAP certified to be able to use the produce in the school’s cafeteria and to make the Farm to School program a full-time art class for grades K-6.