After days of railing against my state’s Agriculture Commissioner and his plan to return sodas and deep fat fryers to our schools, I have to admit I’m feeling pretty dispirited.  But today’s guest post is the perfect antidote.  It’s an inspiring story of one person coming up with an innovative idea that removes junk food from schools, improves kids’ health and helps local farmers and artisans.  Genius!

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Imagine a school bus driving through the rolling hills of Antrim County, passing beautiful farmland and acres of fall foliage sporting a rainbow of colors. And the bus is filled with fourth-graders singing, “I love to eat greens, greens, greens, ain’t no finer thing under the sun.” Did that last part make you think you must be dreaming?

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It’s an experience everyone knows. There’s a kid at the door—maybe a stranger, maybe a neighbor, maybe even your own child—with a brochure full of overpriced junk food. You know you’ll never eat any of the high-fructose caramel corn or chemical-laden candy, but you want to support the cause. As you write the check, you think, There has to be a better way. . . . That’s what FarmRaiser CEO and founder Mark Abbott thought too. But unlike the rest of us, Abbott—a founding member of AmeriCorps, expert in service-learning, and entrepreneur with past start-up experience—knew how to make that idea a reality

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When Mark Abbott’s son was in fourth grade, his local elementary school recruited students and their families to participate in a fundraiser for the school. After successfully selling cookie dough and candy to friends and family, Abbott’s son remarked that he had just sold $400 worth of things the family would never eat at home. “It’s too bad we couldn’t try something healthy like apples,” said his son.

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