Conway Public Schools is happy to announce that all 16 of our schools now have a garden for students and teachers to sow into and reap benefits from for years to come.
The school gardens are part of a larger Farm-to-School Effort that the district has been seeking to prioritize for several years.
“The Farm to School program enriches the lives of our students by promoting healthy eating and enhancing classroom education through hands-on learning,” says Sharon Burgess, Food Services Supervisor for the Conway School District.
In November 2015, Conway Schools was awarded a USDA Farm to School Grant. This $44,000 planning grant enabled the Conway School District to develop and build gardens in all schools but three. The goal was to eventually to have gardens at each school by the end of this school year.
Baptist Health stepped in to make that happen in the Spring of 2017 with the donation needed to build the raised beds at Julia Lee Moore Elementary School, Jim Stone Elementary School, and Woodrow Cummins Elementary School. They also generously donated garden wheel barrels to all 16 Conway Schools.
"Baptist Health is committed to a healthier Arkansas and we take the responsibility of serving the health needs of the Conway community seriously,” said Troy Wells, President and CEO of Baptist Health. “Being healthy starts with being educated and these gardens and wheel barrels will allow these students to learn to make healthy eating choices in a fun and active way.”
With the completion of the last three gardens, all schools will be able to use their gardens for cross-curricular lessons in many different subjects and grade levels. Teachers and students alike will have the opportunity to see firsthand what is involved in growing a garden, as well as get to sample some home-grown (or school-grown!) fruits and vegetables.
“We are very excited about all of the possibilities gardening opens up for our students,” says Woodrow Cummins Elementary School Principal Dayna Lewis. “Our students are already enjoying learning about the fundamentals of gardening. They have taken on the responsibility of watering their crops. We are looking forward to using their “harvest” in healthy recipes in the fall.”
Woodrow Cummins’ teachers have been working hard on their two raised garden beds, planting radishes, strawberries, broccoli, lettuce, brussel sprouts, tomatoes, swiss chards, and several different types of flowers.
4th grade students assisted in planting the seeds as well as daily watering and weed maintenance. They hope that the plants will be big enough to pick in the next few weeks so that the cafeteria manager can prepare something fun for the students before school is out!
They plan to form a “Garden Club” next fall to make more plans for the garden including harvesting more vegetables and possible expansion.
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