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Green in Action Award Winner

Burns Science & Technology Charter School
Community Garden and Environmental Club

Oak Hill,  FL

Even before the school opened, the local Flamingo Organic Farm built and planted seeds in two raised beds, so when the students arrived in August, 2011, our first small edible garden was starting to grow. Volunteers, Liz Dannemiller and Mary Hathaway came to school once a week to work with 5th graders, who enjoyed field trips to their organic farm. This interest launched a desire to expand the school’s garden, so volunteers from Home Depot and FED-EX continued to build additional raised beds. We have a green house, built by the Edgewater Rotary Club. The New Smyrna Garden Club volunteers added Herb Gardening, teaching a 6 weeks program to middle school students, and beginning our barrel herb gardens. (These ladies also taught 4th graders butterfly gardening and 5th graders Native Plants.)

For our Green Week focus this year, a local Master Gardener volunteer, Jim Norman, was interested in aquaponics, so he donated his 400 gal fish tank and grow bed to be added to the students’ garden experience.  Local businessman, Mike McMaster, owner of Mariculture Technologies International, Inc., donated tilapia.  Both men contributed to this additional way to grow food.  We are thankful for this addition to our garden because it demonstrates alternative ways to generate interest in growing fresh food.

This motivated students to move from classroom salad parties to "garden-to-table" salad bar in the cafeteria and fresh vegetables on the hot lunch plate. Many parents and community mentors join students for a fresh lunch. This celebrates our desire to teach health and wellness with fresh from the garden food.

We have also done preliminary planning with Mary Hathaway, local Organic Farm owner, to provide our families and community members next year with fresh produce each week. The School Supported Agriculture (SSA) program is a collaborative project that brings local produce to Burns Sci Tech straight from the farm. Operating in a similar model to a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), students, faculty and staff will have the opportunity to take home fresh, local fruits and vegetables, packed weekly with the bounty of the season. Produce will be harvested from farms within a 20 mile radius of the school and include a farm newsletter, nutrition- themed activities, and recipe ideas. To ensure that all have access to the SSA, Burns Sci Tech will partner with Florida Organic Growers' (FOG) Fresh Access Bucks program to also accept SNAP benefits for the basket, and discount any SNAP family's purchase 50% on the Florida grown fruits and vegetables. Participation in the program will align with the school year, which in Florida also corresponds with the peak growing seasons! The pilot season will begin in October of 2017.

 

2016 Green in Action Winners