Taste of Florida arrives in Dalton with fruit sale

Ryan Anderson/Daily Citizen-News

Learning Tree Elementary School eighth-graders Marley Graham, left, and Jayden Suarez distribute oranges to customers during the school's annual Indian River fruit sale at the school Monday. "It makes me feel good to help people, make sure they're having a good day, and put a smile on their face," Graham said. 

Despite the colorful leaves and chill in the air, it tasted like summer at Learning Tree Elementary School on Monday as students distributed fresh Florida fruit to customers during the annual fruit sale.

"It's such good fruit," said Niki Knowlton, a teacher and secretary at the school. Even her husband, Tim — also a Learning Tree teacher and the school's athletic director — who typically disdains grapefruit is willing to eat the Indian River grapefruit.

Fran Setters has purchased fruit from this sale for "many years," and navel oranges are her favorite, she said. "They're good size."

The fruit at this sale is "very fresh, reasonably (priced), and (delivered with) friendly service," Setters added. "It's very important" the sale aids the school, too.

This is "one of our three big fundraisers" and provides "a significant amount of money," Niki Knowlton said. "The fruit program is big every year in our budget."

Dalton Seventh-day Adventist Church and Learning Tree have been selling Florida fruit to this community for more than six decades, said Twila Brown, Learning Tree's principal and a teacher at the school. The school is part of the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist school network.

"The proceeds help get items for the school that will enrich students' educational experience, like state-of-the-art technology equipment, music supplies and transportation to field trips, to name a few."

Many customers are year-after-year returnees, and "we really appreciate the support," Knowlton said. Pecans are also part of the sale, and those support eighth-grade class trips.

"Almost all of the eighth-graders volunteer to help" at the fruit sale, said eighth-grader Marley Graham, who assisted with the fruit distribution. "It makes me feel good to help people, make sure they're having a good day, and put a smile on their face."

Learning Tree Elementary School has been part of the Dalton community since 1948 and is accredited by the Adventist Accrediting Association for Schools, Colleges and Universities; the National Council for Private School Accreditation; and the Georgia Private School Accreditation Council. More information on the school can be found online at www.learningtreeschool.org.

Navel oranges, mandarins and grapefruit are available at the fruit sale, and all are "good quality," said Ben Nwadike, a member of Dalton Seventh-day Adventist Church, which shares a property on South Tibbs Road with the school. and the longtime coordinator of the event. "It's going good this year."

Those who missed Monday's distribution have one more opportunity this year to buy Indian River fruit, which will be distributed again at the school Dec. 14, he said. Anyone interested must order by Wednesday.

To order, email ltescitrus@gmail.com, visit floridaindianrivergroves.com/ecommerce/1015234 or call (706) 529-4758.

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