The reputation for innovation at Fayette County Public Schools has traveled far and wide. When US Department of Agriculture (USDA) needed a school to study at their Farm-to-School Grantee Gathering, they made the trek to Tyrone to see Flat Rock Middle.
Teachers from around the country, along with USDA representatives, were treated to a tour of the Food Forest with members of the STEAM careers class as guides. The program includes a fully-organic, quarter-acre working garden, with a compost row, an aquaponics pond, an orchard, and an emotional wellness walk maintained by students.
Fresh, organic refreshments were provided by the Food Forest program and school system food services with the help of Flat Rock cafeteria manager Cherl Vandergriff.
School Nutrition Program Director Kokeeta Wilder and Alec Brown from Alo Farms talked about working together to supply produce for school lunches.
STEAM careers teacher Sarah Thompson offered a look at the inspiration and excellence of the Food Forest and opportunities to grow school gardens.
By the end of the day, the group of educators was buzzing with ideas on how they can take the lessons learned back home and grow them in their own fields.
On an annual basis, USDA awards Farm to School grants that support planning, developing, and implementing farm to school programs. The grants are an important way to help state, regional, and local organizations as they initiate, expand, and institutionalize farm to school efforts.