Ag in the Classroom grant helps Black Oak students ‘grow’
Posted: Tuesday, April 3, 2012 8:00 pm
A $500 check was presented to Black Oak Elementary School earlier this year to help with its outdoor classroom garden project.
Tennessee Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom sponsors mini-grants for the purpose of establishing outdoor classroom gardens, which are designed to show that agriculture is an integral part of our everyday environment. Farms, wildlife, forestry, people and cities are all interrelated with agriculture. As most of Tennessee’s wildlife resides on and feeds off of private property, including farms and timber lands, the gardens can demonstrate the connection between agriculture, food, fiber, conservation, wildlife and the urban environment.
In order to qualify for a grant, a school must have a minimum of 100 students for average daily attendance and the garden must be located on or adjacent to the school site. Projects must be advised by an agriculture extension agent, a NRCS area conservationist and a farmer volunteer, preferably a county Farm Bureau board member who must also serve as project advisor. Teacher and parent involvement is mandatory. The gardens must contain production agriculture crops, such as corn, wheat, oats, etc. and/or garden vegetables.
The Black Oak Outdoor Classroom Garden is being constructed in the inner courtyard area of the school. Principal Sheila Stone explained that Black Oak Elementary is constructed in a hollow square. The inner courtyard has remained unappealing, despite efforts to place picnic tables there.
The area is being converted to a garden area which will feature a stage for outdoor programs, pergolas covered in vegetables and flowers and raised beds for growing vegetables and flowers, as well as picnic tables where students and teachers may enjoy lunch.
Students were to plant seeds under grow lights in the science lab. The seedlings then were to be transplanted outdoors. “Even the kindergarten class will be studying agriculture and planting seeds,” Mrs. Stone said. “The vegetables and flowers will be donated in baskets to senior citizens in the area as a community service project.”
Each county and Union City school is eligible to apply for a mini-grant, which is $500 for establishing a new garden (matching funds must be shown) with a $250 recurring grant to be applied for each year thereafter.
For information about the Outdoor Classroom Grant, contact Obion County Farm Bureau Women’s chairman Brenda Baker at 536-5442 or download an application at www.tnfarmbureau.org and click on Ag-In-The-Classroom.
Published in The Messenger 4.3.12