SUBSCRIBE NOW
$1 for 3 months
SUBSCRIBE NOW
$1 for 3 months

Five Crawford County schools receive grant for gardening programs

Ty Thompson
Press Argus-Courier

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture has announced that 52 schools across Arkansas have been approved for funding through the Arkansas School Garden Grant Program. Alma Kiddie Kollege, Alma High School, Cedarville High School, James R. Tate Elementary, and Van Buren Kiddie Kollege all received the grant. 

Each of the schools will receive a $500 grant to be used for starting or expanding gardens on school grounds.

Shannon Newerth-Henson, master gardener at Kiddie Kollege in Alma says that they hope to use the grant to expand their program and begin growing native plants, purchase vertical planters and new landscaping tools. 

Shannon Newerth-Henson

Everything that is grown at Kiddie Kollege is used for their school nutrition program. "Over the summer we grew bell peppers," said Newerth-Henson. "We used them in quesadillas, enchiladas, and chili."

Kiddie Kollege in Alma was also named best school garden of the year by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture. 

Lakan Brumley, Agriculture Education instructor at Alma High School, says that she plans to use the grant for garden soil, garden tools, and a more efficient watering system. "We plan to grow squash, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, green beans, and whatever else students decide they are interested in growing come planting time," said Brumley.

Lakan Brumley

At Alma High School the survey of agriculture classes tends to the garden each week until school is let out for summer. After that, students spend one or two days volunteering their time. 

Schools may use the funding to purchase soil, specialty crop seeds and plants, and gardening equipment. In addition to the funding, the department’s farm to school and early childhood education program staff will provide technical assistance to schools upon request. Public and private K-12 schools, early care and education facilities, and alternative learning environments were eligible to apply for the funding. 

Funding for the Arkansas School Garden Grant Program is provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program that was developed to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. The USDA defines specialty crops as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops.