Five schools will receive support for greenhouses

We’re excited to announce five schools have received awards to participate in the School Greenhouse to Cafeteria facilitation program for the 2016-17 school year.

The schools are Auburn Public School in Auburn, Garden County Schools in Oshkosh, Blue Hill Community Schools in Blue Hill, Southern Valley Schools in Oxford, and Sutton Public School in Sutton, all in Nebraska.

Each of the five schools will receive one-on-one support from the Center for Rural Affairs to cultivate school greenhouses and gardens that will provide food for the school cafeteria, educate students about where food comes from, and teach entrepreneurial skills.

This project builds a much needed and desired network of school greenhouses and gardens and associated resources to promote school garden expansion, potentially having far reaching impacts across the state. Each of these awarded schools will receive start-up grant funds for supplementing or kickstarting the school garden project.

Building farm to school teams and setting goals helps to make a farm to school program more sustainable, in particular by providing ag educators who may not have extensive fruit and vegetable production expertise with one-on-one technical assistance.

This is also an opportunity to engage students in hands-on learning, teach healthy habits, build an edible education program, and have a large impact on your community as the program grows.

Each school district awarded funding has at least one administrator, food service manager, and ag educator or greenhouse manager participating in the School Greenhouse to Cafeteria efforts. And individuals filling all three roles in each school enthusiastically agreed to work on the program with Center staff.

This level of participation and engagement by educators and food service professionals has been inspiring, and is vital to the success of this effort. We’re excited to help bring a nutritious, educational and entrepreneurial experience to as many students as possible. We’re proud of the partnership and collaborative spirit of these school districts.

This unique opportunity is made possible by the Blooming Prairie Foundation, and supported by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska and Farm Credit Services of America.

Pictured: East Butler Public School students show off a 50-pound pumpkin earlier this week. The district was a pilot school with the School Greenhouse to Cafeteria facilitation program in 2015-16. The Center for Rural Affairs continues to provide technical assistance to increase quantity and variety. The students now have two raised beds and a 35-foot row of pumpkins, as well as a greenhouse dedicated to edible produce production. Students recently transplanted sweet potatoes, and started peas and broccoli. | Photo by Shane Hennessy