The Learning Center! Charter School has for the past ten years placed an emphasis on providing a culture that links school to agriculture. On October 27th, with the help of Lowe’s Heroes and other community donations and volunteer efforts, the school transformed its entire front landscaping into a sustainable terraced planting area.
A large number of volunteers stepped up to the challenge including members of Lowe’s Heroes Volunteer Program, Nehemiah’s Neighbors (a local Christian men’s group), Franklin Barnett, Vice President Cherokee County Farm Bureau with a funding donation, landscape contractors Wendall and Phillip Chastain and parents of students at the school.
Part of the grant that was crucial to making the 1st phase of the project happen was to procure in-kind labor costs for terracing, laying timbers for planting beds, installing posts and cable for vertical planting area, and installing a walkway.
The second phase of the project includes a greenhouse the school hopes will be completed with another grant later in the year. The project seeks to provide an outdoor extension of the classroom for staff and students to carry out planting and harvesting, STEM, and other cross-curricular studies. In addition, the terraced garden will directly serve the school’s Nutrition Program.
School Director, Mary Jo Dyre stated, “We feel strongly that students need to understand the connection between the foods that appear on their plates and the farmers who work the soil to produce many of the foods that are necessary to good nutrition.”
The school has a long history of promoting emphasises on good nutrition as part of its overall mission–growing some of its own food for educational purposes such as providing activities that support the STEM curriculum (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
“The Learning Center! continues our commitment to the greater Community of Learners,” said Dyre. “This project helps prioritize farm-to-school connections and will impact our teaching health and wellness for future generations.”