Local schools receive grants for garden projects | News

JONESBORO — Local students will enjoy getting their hands dirty as five local schools in northeast Arkansas have received grants to fund their gardens.

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture announced in a press release last Thursday that a total of 88 grants have been approved for a total of $37,500 under the Arkansas School Garden Grant Program. Arkansas and the Arkansas Taste Testing Grant Program.

Agriculture Secretary Wes Ward said in the press release that school gardens and taste tests have proven to be invaluable tools in teaching children about agriculture, nutrition and various skills. He said the lessons learned through these programs can have a lasting impact on children, their families and entire communities.

The Arkansas School Garden Grant Program was created to help schools start or expand gardens on school grounds and the department provided $500 grants to schools to purchase land , specialty crop seeds and plants, and gardening supplies.

The ADA has recognized the following five local schools for the grant program:

Health, Wellness, and Environmental Studies Magnet Elementary School and Nettleton Junior High School in Jonesboro, Armorel High School in Armorel, Hoxie School District in Hoxie, and Manila Elementary School in Manila.

Melinda Smith, a counselor at the Health Wellness and Environmental Studies Magnet Elementary School, said the school was very happy to receive the grant, noting that they would use it largely on dirt and pots.

“We have an indoor garden in the backyard and we can’t just have a truck load delivered, so we have to use bags of soil,” Smith said. “This grant will really help buy the land we need.”

Two of these schools also received $250 grants through Arkansas’ Taste Testing Grant Program. This program was set up to help schools conduct cafeteria taste tests of locally grown specialty crops, as defined by the USDA, which are fruits, vegetables, nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops.

The department awarded the grants to Armorel High School and Manila Elementary School to purchase kitchen equipment and utensils, utility equipment, and specialty crop seeds and plants.

“The grant programs were developed with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Specialty Crops Block Grant Program to increase the production and consumption of specialty crops in schools,” according to the release. .