This grant will meet the needs of the “Farming IN School: Agriculture for ALL” initiative created by agricultural education instructors, Cecily Gunter and Marcus Pollard.
This initiative is a collaborative effort led by the Newton College and Career Academy Agricultural Education Department. Through the initiative, students enrolled in all schools located in Newton County will benefit by the creation of Blue and Gold Acres, a fully functional farm located on the campus of Newton College and Career Academy.
“I am excited about the implementation grant, which helps fund the Blue and Gold Acres project,” said Tiffany Merriweather, Grants Coordinator for the Newton County School System. “Our students will now have more hands-on learning experiences in farming.”
Blue and Gold Acres would increase agricultural awareness to students by providing hands‐on learning opportunities centered around Agricultural Production, Biosecurity, STEM, and Agricultural Advocacy. By utilizing community partners and resources, Blue and Gold Acres will be able to providing students a comprehensive and diverse look at farming and growing food.
“We’re so fortunate to have the support we need to help create opportunities for learning. We’re excited about what this grant means for our students and community,” Gunter said. “This grant will allow us to reach more students and community members in ways that we’ve never been able to before. We truly believe the USDA Farm to School grant will transform agricultural education for generations to come in Newton County.”
“Our main goal is to make our community proud of an agricultural education program where students are able to benefit from hands-on and experimental learning,” Pollard said. “Our grant application was designed to increase the capabilities of our program with high end equipment from bees to beef and poultry to podcasts. There is something for literally every student in our program and Newton County School System.”
The USDA awarded $12.1 million in Farm to School Grants this cycle — the most awarded since the grant program’s inception — to 159 grantees, which is the most projects funded to date. These awards, administered by the USDA, will help bring fresh, local foods into schools and foster economic opportunity for America’s farmers over the next school year. Farm to School Grants support a wide range of activities that increase the amount of local foods served in child nutrition programs and teach children about food and agriculture.
Since the Farm to School Grant Program’s inception in 2013, USDA has awarded over $52 million to support 719 projects across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and Puerto Rico. These projects are reaching nearly 21 million students in 47,000 schools.