November 9, 2009 – Zebulon, NC USA
Elementary school teachers are going green in Franklin County, NC with installation of school gardens. Teachers are adding gardening to their lesson plans for science, nutrition, and other subjects. Produce grown in these gardens will feed the students, the teachers, and other local residents.
Working with Franklin County school teachers and Dale Byrns, Creative Education Office, several gardens are being installed. In Spring 2010, over 100 elementary school students will be growing food for themselves, learning about nutrition, working in the garden, and sharing their produce in the local community.
The first gardens -- five raised beds -- were installed November 4th at Long Mill Elementary. These raised bed gardens are overseen by several first grade teachers, first graders, volunteers, and representatives from Grow And Share. Over three tons of organic garden soil was used to build the gardens, with all the soil donated by Old Castle Lawn and Garden of Louisburg. Woodlief Supply Co. of Youngsville provided greens seed for some experimental Fall planting.
"It was great to see businesses in the community dive in and help these schools. Their contributions kept the total garden costs under $50 for all the school gardens," said Frank Whatley of Grow And Share. Grow And Share, a local non-profit, delivered the supplies and donated landscape timbers for the beds. Additionally, Grow And Share will provide the students with free garden plants in April.
At Long Mill Elementary, the teachers are using this gardening experience to teach the students hands-on about the parts of a plant and how plants grow (a science objective). Growing the plants lines up with the teachers' objectives of teaching science lessons on what a plant needs to grow. "The students will also be learning about health and nutrition as part of our health initiatives... good choices, food pyramid, etc.," says First Grade Teacher Laurie Baker.
"We're working with schools, girl scouts, brownies, and other children," said Kay Whatley, Creative Director at Grow And Share, "helping the next generation hear the message: you can grow your own food. As adults, each will decide if gardening is something they want to do. We're glad for the opportunity to work on youth-oriented projects like the school gardens."
From Kimberly Ferrell, Long Mill Elementary School Principal: "It was an awesome opportunity for our First Grade students to see and understand the process of starting a garden. At Long Mill Elementary School our goal is to educate our students about healthy living and choices. This project is part of our Wellness program that leads to greater rewards in living fit."
An additional school garden is planned for Franklinton Elementary, with groundbreaking expected in the first quarter of 2010. Students 1-5 in the AIG program at Franklinton Elementary will grow produce in the garden, and then share it with a local senior center.
Michelle McGhee, AIG Specialist at Franklinton Elementary, is in charge of that school's garden. She says, "I am excited about getting in the dirt and providing my students hands-on gardening instruction. We will be learning about plants in our science study and will integrate the study throughout math and reading in my AIG classes for grades 1-5. My students will engage in planting seeds, pulling weeds, and harvesting the produce. We will distribute the vegetables at our local senior center where we can also provide community outreach. We just can't wait to experience our own gardening."
"Franklin County Schools recognizes that proper nutrition and healthy living habits are very important for a child's education," Franklin County Superintendent Dr. Eddie Ingram said. "We are thankful for the efforts Grow And Share is putting forth to help the children and staff of Franklin County schools make healthy decisions."
Both schools' gardens will be in full swing by April, designed to allow students to harvest food before school ends for Summer Vacation. All students participating in the program will be able to give back to the community while learning to feed themselves.
About Franklin County Schools
Franklin County is one of the fastest growing counties in North Carolina. For additional information on Franklin County Schools, contact Dale Byrns at (919) 496-7349 or visit www.fcschools.net
About Grow And Share
Grow And Share is an organization fighting hunger from the ground up(TM) by growing interest in gardening and local foods. Activities include plant giveaways, gardens promoting, and gathering food for local organizations to distribute free. Grow And Share provides plants and assistance to North Carolina residents willing to plant "Sharing Gardens(TM)" on their own land. These gardens allow each person to provide food for their family with some to share with their community. New and existing gardeners pick up free garden plants each April and sign a pledge to share their harvest in their communities. By providing the plants at no charge, Grow And Share is ensuring even those who do not have the funds to spare can start gardening and grow food.
Grow And Share
70 Harrison Street
Zebulon NC 27597