Volunteers constructed a 75 foot by 120 foot garden with 30 raised beds at Lakeshore Elementary School in Greece, made possible by a grant from the USDA Community Food Projects Competitive Grants program.
The garden is part of a partnership with Rochester Roots, a local nonprofit that offers Sustainability Education and Entrepreneurship (SEE) programs.
Executive Director of Rochester Roots Jan McDonald said the project hopes to bring a more hands on approach to learning. Teachers in grades 3 through 5 in the school have already begun integrating lessons about agriculture into the classroom.
"One lesson which I know all the teachers teach is on pollination. It’s hard to learn about pollination from a white board. But now kids will actually see pollination. They'll see bees. They'll see the pollen sacks on the bees. They'll see honey bees, carpenter bees, orchard bees."
The project isn’t just for learning about sustainability and ecosystems, but wants to inspire young entrepreneurs as well.
Rochester Roots already has a similar gardening program in place at the Rochester City School District Montessori Academy. Here, McDonald says she has a student who is growing cotton.
“She’s interested in cotton and the history of cotton. So she’s growing that. And in the future she wants her own clothing line. So she’s looking at organic cotton and heirloom cotton for her clothing line."
McDonald believes watching this garden grow and thrive will help teach students how their choices affect the environment.
"It will be their main feedback of whether or not their decisions are sustainable. So if they can keep living systems alive and critically think and make decisions that support living systems, then they will best understand sustainability."
Lakeshore Elementary will receive $75,000 in funding over 3 years to kick start the program. Their initial crops include garlic and winter wheat, which will be planted in the coming weeks.