Schools to get garden grants

Arian Green (left), 2, and Victoria Arratia, 3, both students at The Goddard School Fayetteville, plant flowers Monday, March 25, 2019, with the guidance of volunteers from the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks at the school. The volunteers worked with two preschool classes and two prekindergarten classes and planted a flower bed and vegetable bed.

Fifty-two schools across Arkansas were approved for funding through the Arkansas School Garden Grant Program. Several recipients are from Southeast Arkansas.

Each school will receive a $500 grant to be used for starting or expanding gardens on school grounds, according to an Arkansas Department of Agriculture news release.

Southeast Arkansas recipients include:

• Arkansas River Education Service Cooperative Preschool in Pine Bluff.

• Klassic Kidz Inc. in Pine Bluff.

• Monticello Middle School in Monticello.

• Pine Bluff High School in Pine Bluff.

• White Hall High School in White Hall.

"School gardens provide a hands-on opportunity for children to learn about Arkansas agriculture and where their food comes from," said Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward. "The lessons learned through school gardens have a lasting impact on children, their families and entire communities."

Schools may use the funding to purchase soil, specialty crop seeds and plants and gardening equipment.

In addition to the funding, the department's Farm to School and Early Childhood Education program staff will provide technical assistance to schools upon request.

Public and private K-12 schools, early care and education facilities and alternative learning environments were eligible to apply for the funding.

"We look forward to working with the schools on their garden projects so many more Arkansas students can benefit from garden-based education," said Sarah Lane, Farm to School and Early Childhood Education Program coordinator.

Funding for the Arkansas School Garden Grant Program is provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Specialty Crop Block Grant Program that was developed to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. The USDA defines specialty crops as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops.