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Building Sustainable Community Partnerships in Farm to School

Just four years ago, the Lovinggood Middle School garden in Cobb County included just two modest raised beds. Year by year it grew to six raised beds thanks to generous donations from parents and community members. Last week, 12 raised beds were added with the help of CJ Sides, a Boy Scout of Troop 795!

Earlier this year, CJ’s father, a physical education teacher at Lovinggood, told him the school needed new garden beds.  CJ decided to help improve the garden for his Eagle Scout Project. He submitted a 14-page project proposal, which included the construction of 12 raised garden beds, to the Lovinggood Parent Teacher Association (PTA). The PTA approved and funded the project.

Family and Consumer Services (FACS) teacher, Dawn Castleberry is ecstatic about the expansion of the garden, and happy with CJ’s leadership while coordinating his project. She described her experience with CJ and Troop 795 as “an absolute synergistic partnership,” and hopes that the garden will continue to bring a sense of community to the school. Castleberry wants to bring the farming and general community into the garden for more projects and learning opportunities during the upcoming school year.

After attending the 2017 Georgia Farm to School Summit, Castleberry has focused on expanding and incorporating the school garden into her curriculum. She plans to take her students into the school garden more next school year. She will help students make pesto and salsa in the food laboratory from fresh school garden ingredients like tomatoes, basil, and peppers.

More Lovinggood educators are teaching their lessons in the school garden. One teacher helped STEM students make hydroponic tubes to water the garden. Next school year, STEM students will conduct a soil testing showcase for parents and the community.

Lovinggood Middle School’s partnership with Troop 795 is an excellent example of how community alliances can create more successful and sustainable farm to school programs. Want to learn how to increase community partnerships for your Farm to School program? Check out these ideas!

 

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