Hundreds of applicants across the country competed for limited funding from the United States Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service, and Reynoldsburg City Schools was among the districts awarded a Farm-to-School Implementation Grant.
Reynoldsburg City Schools developed a comprehensive management and work plan to expand and integrate its agricultural education program with an urban farm-to-school initiative, increasing access to local food in the schools and community.
Investments will be made to increase food production by:
- expanding the existing Growing Center and increasing capacity to harvest and process food
- New raised beds will be installed on the repurposed tennis courts at RHS' Livingston Campus
- A climate control system will be added to the greenhouse
- New water lines, electricity lines and a solar panel controller will be installed to support the irrigation systems, which will be expanded to accommodate the expanded planting area
- Students in Agriculture Pathway courses will establish perimeter landscaping features to support a native pollinator habitat, and a honey bee habitat will be added so that students can study traditional beekeeping practices.
- Supplies will be acquired to support increased harvesting, storage and distribution of produce
- An existing classroom kitchen will be updated with new ovens, food preservation tools and modern food preparation appliances
- Technology such as an overhead camera will be installed to support demonstrations
Strategic efforts are planned to establish close ties between the production of local produce, student learning and student leadership development. Project-based learning activities will be designed and integrated into the four courses in RHS' Agriculture Pathway to improve students’ knowledge acquisition and skill development through hands-on experience. Partnerships with the district food service department, regional food bank and local farmer’s market will be used to distribute foods, especially during the summer months. Student involvement outside of the school day will be cultivated through the Slow Food Reynoldsburg club (volunteers) and through the creation of a paid student internship program, which will employ three students annually. Finally, curriculum will be developed to expose students in grades 5 - 9 to the Agriculture Pathway, as part of the District’s ongoing efforts to help students make informed and inspired decisions as they select among 18 college and career pathway opportunities.
Mr. Trevor Horn, RHS' Agriculture teacher said, "The USDA Farm to School Grant is going to allow our program to impact student learning by enhancing our ability to produce food using hands-on scientific methods."
In a letter to RCS Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Jocelyn Cosgrave, representatives from the USDA wrote, "Your application stood out because it demonstrated your strong experience and readiness to conduct farm-to-school initiatives; showed that you are thinking critically about opportunities and challenges; outlined goals that are closely aligned with FNS goals for the program; proposed a reasonable scope and budget; and gave us confidence that your farm-to-school program will be implemented with or without Federal support."
With the grant, Mr. Horn explains that students will have the opportunity to learn the deeper meaning of farm-to-table by studying biodiversity's impact on production and experience real-word, every-day problem solving. "This isn't just financial support in student learning, it is an investment in the future of the entire Reynoldsburg community to empower consumers to make educated food choices," said Mr. Horn.
to read the USDA's press release about the awards.