Support for Sharon School Garden is Big Help

Support for School Garden Helps #GrowSharon, Educate, and Engage Students
Posted on 03/01/2024
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Thanks to the generous support from the Northwest Tennessee [NWTN] Local Food Network, grant funds, and the Weakley County Soil Conservation District, students at Sharon School have even more opportunities to learn and participate in the cycle of food - from the ground straight to the lunch table.

Through the collaboration, Sharon School has welcomed new galvanized steel raised beds into its school garden. The tasty and nutritious vegetables grown in the garden will be harvested and served up for lunch to hungry students. The new garden beds will provide fertile ground for hands-on learning experiences in agriculture, sustainability, and nutrition.

In addition to local support from the Soil Conservation District, a $500 GroMoreGood Grassroots grant kicked off the initiative through the NWTN Local Food Network. This grant, facilitated by the Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation and, provided the crucial funding to jumpstart this phase of the school garden project.

group of sponsors smile in Sharon garden
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: NWTN Food Network Outreach Director Caroline Ideas, Soil and Water Conservation District Representatives Gerald Parham, David Rook, and Tony Winstead, and Executive Director Samantha Goyret.

Samantha Goyret, Executive Director of the NWTN Local Food Network, has been instrumental in shaping the Farm to School initiative in Weakley County.  She expressed her gratitude for generous local partners.

"We are thankful to the Weakley County Soil Conservation District for this support,” Goyret said. “They work to conserve and protect soil and water resources in Weakley County through education and outreach. The partnership was the missing piece to making this project happen for Sharon School.”

Goyret’s passion for educating children about growing food and healthy eating habits has been instrumental as the driving force behind the program's success. She believes in the importance of teaching students about where food comes from and healthy eating habits.

"Our goal is to not only educate children about where their food comes from but also to instill a deeper understanding of the benefits of healthy eating for themselves, their families, and our communities," stated Samantha Goyret. "By integrating the produce they grow into the school cafeteria, we create a full feedback loop that reinforces this understanding."

Under the guidance of Dresden High School teacher and FFA chapter advisor Jonathan Holden, Dresden FFA students built, loaded, delivered, unloaded, and placed the raised beds at Sharon School in February. Students, faculty, and staff at Sharon School have also been cleaning and preparing the area for spring planting.

Dresden FFA group students smile in front of new raised silver garden beds
Dresden High School FFA from left to right: Merissa Harrison, Myra Morgan, Destanie Dean, Cayden Lowry, Mavree Craig, Amanda Perry, and Advisor Jonathan Holden.

Recognizing the pivotal role of school leadership, Samantha commended Sharon School's Principal Michelle Clements, Assistant Principal Beth Davidson, and teachers Danielle Johnson and Lydia Hazlewood for their guidance and dedication to the project.

"Having strong leadership at the school level is crucial for the success of any school garden project," Samantha mentioned. "These individuals lead the charge each year by integrating outdoor learning experiences into the curriculum, ensuring that students are engaged and learning from the entire experience.  Weakley County Schools is the beacon that is leading the Farm to Schools movement in West Tennessee,” she added.

The theme for this school year at Sharon School is #GrowSharon, according to Principal Michelle Clements, and this collaboration reflects the theme perfectly.

"We love providing our students with the chance to grow with hands-on learning experiences that they can use for the rest of their lives. We are thankful to have these partnerships that allow students to get their hands in the soil, learn about agriculture, and to get a better understanding of all that it encompasses to grow nutritious and sustainable foods," said Clements.

The NWTN Local Food Network, founded as a grassroots organization in 2015 and later established as a nonprofit in 2018, has been instrumental in fostering partnerships between schools and communities to promote sustainable agriculture and nutrition education. With a focus on empowering students to make healthy choices and fostering community resilience, the NWTN Local Food Network is at the forefront of the Farm to School movement in West Tennessee.

Huge semi-circle group photo of students and food network representatives involved with raised garden project
FROM RIGHT TO LEFT - NWTN Food Network Outreach Director Caroline Ideas and Executive Director Samantha Goyret; Dresden High School FFA Members Cayden Lowry, Myra Morgan, and Merissa Harrison; Sharon School Students Keira Wells; Winter Donnell, Nevaeh Donnell, Zoey Muzzall, Kathy Stone, Maddilynn Hazlewood, Bailey Warbington, Joseph Place, Marcus Dixon, Brycen Edwards, Tori Lewis, Josiah Harrison, Jaydon Wiseman, Wyatt Hagele, Tyzhaay Patton, Trey Walters, Hollis Ballard, Kaedence Capps, Tray Champion, Ray Tackett, and Jake Cogle; Dresden High School FFA Members Mavree Craig, Destanie Dean, Amanda Perry; Soil and Water Conservation District Representatives Tony Winstead, David Rook, and Gerald Parham; Dresden High School FFA Advisor Jonathan Holden.

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