Department of Agriculture

Supporting Arkansas farmers and ranchers while ensuring safe food, fiber, and forest products for the citizens of Arkansas, the nation, and across the globe

School Gardens

School gardens are living laboratories that create teaching opportunities for nutrition, agriculture, and experiential education across all disciplines. School gardens can be an indoor herb garden in a windowsill of a classroom, outdoor raised beds, in-ground farms, or even a greenhouse. These gardens help children discover where food comes from and develop healthy eating habits. Further, research shows that when a student plants a seed, they are more likely to taste and try the food when it is ready to harvest resulting in greater acceptance of fruits and vegetables. 

Arkansas School Garden Grant Program

The Arkansas School Garden Grant Program was established to help schools start or expand gardens on school grounds. The grant program was developed with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Specialty Crop Block Grant Program to increase production of specialty crops in school gardens. Specialty crops as defined by the USDA are fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops. The grant program is available to public and private K-12 schools, early childhood education facilities, and alternative learning environments. 

The application deadline is November 30, 2020. Find the School Garden Grant Program Application here.

Contact Hanna Davis, State School Garden Manager, at hanna.davis@agriculture.arkansas.gov with any questions.

Arkansas Grown School Garden Contest

Congratulations to our 2020 Contest Winners!

Best School Garden Start-Up Proposal:
Fairview Elementary, Texarkana

Fairview Elementary's proposal included achievable goals and a clear path forward to maintain its start-up garden. They also included specific community stakeholders that they want to engage, such as their high school's greenhouse and the local master gardeners, in order to ensure the school garden's success! We look forward to seeing what they bring to the table next year!

Best Harvest Partnership Garden:
Fayetteville Public Schools, Fayetteville

Fayetteville Public Schools has developed a procedure for incorporating their produce from school gardens in their lunches, and also has a "Harvest of the Month" program that highlights an ingredient from a local farm for taste tests. This past year, Fayetteville Public Schools were able to use produce from their school gardens in lunch packets during COVID-19 school closures! This is a great example of how these programs can solve problems and observe the impact and reality of their hard work!

Best Education Based Garden:
ACCESS Group Inc., Little Rock

ACCESS Group Inc. utilizes its school garden to implement multi-sensory, hands-on educational, and therapy programs for individuals with developmental disabilities. They use the garden to enhance classroom instruction, teaching not only gardening skills but also developing social skills, implementing vocational training, and encouraging healthy eating and trying new foods. This is a great example of how school gardens have a wider application than just planting and growing!

Champion of Sustaining School Garden:
Carolyn Lewis Elementary, Conway

Carolyn Lewis Elementary has a robust garden education program, with cross-curricular educational activities and a designated classroom for hands-on cooking and nutrition classes. They have implemented initiatives such as a garden club, a Summer Adopt the Garden Program, and an annual plant sale, and have a diverse number of community partners. They also include their garden produce in their school Snack Backpack Program and feature local farmers in a "Harvest of the Month" in their cafeteria.

Best Community Collaboration Garden:
Hugh Goodwin Elementary, El Dorado

Hugh Goodwin Elementary's school garden has engaged the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension, Union County Master Gardeners, local farmers, and local businesses to enhance the garden's educational potential for its students and to increase the resources available to the garden. This school committed the phrase “it takes a village” to heart!

Overall School Garden Winner:
West Arkansas Child Development Inc., Alma

West Arkansas Child Development Inc. has integrated the school garden into much of their classroom learning and has gone above and beyond by focusing weekly curriculum themes on aspects of the garden and implementing taste tests of garden produce. They have a variety of community partners that assist in the maintenance and expansion of the garden and enhance students' learning. With an active garden committee, diverse funding, and professional development opportunities for its staff, West Arkansas Child Development Inc. has taken measures to ensure that the garden is a sustainable and long-lasting part of the school.

Supporting, Protecting, and Growing Arkansas Agriculture and Forestry
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