During the 2011-2012 school term, John Cole, teacher at Richardson Middle School, had the idea of teaching his students to understand, repair and service vehicles, weed eaters, mowers and other machines AND HOW TO GROW FOOD TO HELP FEED THEIR FAMILIES! A 45-minute class was the first step in making this concept a reality. In the next school term, 2012-2013, the program became a part of the school’s elective curriculum taught through Career Exploration and Agri-Science. In the 2013-2014 term his classes planted 7 rows of potatoes; all seed potatoes, fertilizer and advice were donated by Central States of Lake City. The potatoes were planted, cultivated, watered and taken care of by hand using hoes and an old-fashioned hand plow.
The Kids Feeding Kids project has two parts:
PART ONE: "Kids Feeding Kids" - Schools in the Columbia County School District producing food for students to take home to their families, and ultimately producing enough for student consumption through the district Food Service Department. The pilot program, located at Richardson Middle School, has already seen the success of this endeavor as kids have already grown and taken home potatoes. In the first semester of the 2014-2015 school year, cabbage, turnips and collards are being grown! The food is grown on site in a garden site and existing green house.
As the RMS program grows and other schools are added, the goal is to add green houses for hydroponic gardening with the growing process, from start to finish, handled by highly trained students, teachers, CCSS employees, volunteers, and under the guidance and direction of the Columbia County 4H, and both Florida Gateway College and University of Florida students, faculty and staff. Goals include purchasing a Verti-Gro hydroponic system of 50 towers that cost around $ 3800 each, and adding a second 50-tower set as soon as possible. These two systems can produce enough food for all schools in the district to have fresh produce. Additionally, participating students will be able to take their work home and share with their families through the use of "bucket gardens"!
For more information: contact John at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PART TWO: “Don’t Mow It, Grow It” - This project is based on the idea of taking all “non-essential grass” at the schools and using it as garden space to grow vegetables. “Non-essential grass” is grass that does not need to be maintained for the safety of the students or essential for landscaping. The project ultimately can expand to include other public or private lands. Currently John Cole is working to get all elementary and secondary schools involved. The dream is to take the nonessential grass and use it to teach the students how to provide for their families as well as their own school's backpack children. Food produced from this project will be sold, donated and/or used to send fresh food home through the BackPack Friday Program. To be fully realized and functioning, it will take approximately 2 to 3 years.
For more info on this program, contact John at email@example.com.
Richardson Middle School is an inner-city school with a high number of students from low-income families. Four of the students in the classroom participated in the school’s BACKPACK FOR FOOD program in which they received food on Friday to last the weekend when they cannot take advantage of the free and reduced-price lunch the county school system affords them. Watching these students’ commitment and confidence as they grew food and took it home to help their families was life changing.
John Cole, Director
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