Leaders at Florence Mattison Elementary School say students will have a "fresh from the garden" after-school snack by the end of the year.
Their vision comes after breaking ground on an 8,100 square foot school garden yesterday.
The newly-expanded area will eventually include raised beds for every classroom and an orchard for fruit trees.
GT Teacher Lynn Duran says the garden has been a long time dream of his.
"I'm starting my 20th year and I am absolutely thrilled to be seeing this project through," says Duran.
The garden is part of Conway Schools' continued Farm to School efforts. The district's newest implementation grant will enable all schools to champion school gardens and other projects.
As part of the grant, Florence Mattison not only has a FoodCorps Service Member as part of their staff, but they will receive resources like seeds and more to help with the new garden.
This, combined with the staff's enthusiasm and willingness to help with the project, is a recipe for success.
"It is our goal to not only nurture our students but to also build bigger relationships with the city of Conway and citizens of Faulkner County," says Duran. "We hope to one day soon provide crops for any wanting or needing families at school and then to use our extra to help food banks, Bethlehem House and any other organizations who could get the veggies to our most vulnerable population, our children." In just a short time, the Florence Mattison garden project has garnered much support from the school's neighbors and area residents, the Faulkner County Extension Service, as well as former faculty and staff.
Tuesday, current students and staff, dressed in their best farmer attire, broke ground on the new garden, dedicating the space to long-time Principal Sam Nelson and his family.
"Mrs. Florence Mattison was an avid gardener and we’ve learned from stories given to us by her wonderful family that (she) had a deep love for raising crops to feed her family and the children she long ago inspired. Mr. Nelson served children for over 40 years in Arkansas providing those same qualities our school’s namesake inspired."
The "Nelson Family Garden" now stands as a visual reminder of the school new motto: "Not you, not me, but WE!"
Conway Public Schools News
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