Grant funds community garden at SHSPublished 8:59pm Monday, May 13, 2013
CHOCOWINITY — Southside High School’s students will be getting their hands dirty in the coming months.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina awarded a $3,000 grant to the school’s Future Farmers of America chapter to fund a community garden as part of the Nourishing North Carolina program.
Nourishing North Carolina is a statewide campaign to make healthful food more accessible to residents. Nearly two-thirds of adults in North Carolina are overweight or obese due to unhealthful eating habits and inactivity.
Agriculture teacher Joshua Singleton said this community garden would address both issues.
“This gives students the opportunity to learn about agriculture, how to build and work a garden, how to be self-sustaining,” he said. “There are too many people who are starving everyday, and if we can provide a few vegetables that’s what we’re here to do.”
One stipulation of the grant is that 10 percent of the produce be donated to a food bank. Eagle’s Wings will receive Southside’s bounty. “Communities across North Carolina are embracing this initiative and rolling up their sleeves to help North Carolinians eat better and live healthier lives. This is important work that reaches far beyond the growing season,” said Brad Wilson, BCBSNC president and CEO.
By 2014, Nourishing North Carolina is expected to ultimately provide North Carolina communities with 190,000 pounds of produce, which is expected to enhance the nutritional value of nearly 150,000 meals. Just in its first year, the program donated more than two tons of produce to food shelter and rescue organizations across the state. In order to succeed, Southside FFA will be partnering with several local agencies, including the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service, the Beaufort County Health Department, local Master Gardeners, the N.C. Public Health Foundation, Mid-East Commission and the Beaufort County Farm Bureau.
Singleton learned of the grant from Michele Oros, director of grants and development at Beaufort County Schools. The Southside FFA chapter, a student-led organization, was looking for opportunities to educate youth on the value of gardening as well as helping the community by providing fresh produce to Eagle’s Wings.
The remainder of the produce will go to the career and technical education foods labs at Southside.
Singleton said the grant will cover the construction of the garden, and the school will seek additional funding for seeds and supplies. Someone has offered to donate potting soil.
Singleton designed a garden that would fit in an unused space near the school’s greenhouse. Singleton’s mechanical students will help construct the beds. Southside’s horticulture students will tend the garden throughout the year.
Singleton has plenty of experience tending a community garden. He was garden manager of 20 raised beds while a student at Mount Olive College. He helped construct the beds and tend the garden.
Southside’s garden will be on a smaller scale.
“The beds are four feet wide and 20 feet long. We’ll be doing five of those,” said Singleton,
Singleton had horticulture students help him plan what to grow. They will plant a summer garden and a fall garden.
“We should start in mid-June,” Singleton said.
This summer, students will plant tomatoes, cucumbers and squash. The fall will yield cabbage, collards, lettuce and cauliflower.
“I really don’t see any challenges as long as it’s done with the help of my students,” Singleton said. “Many hands make light work and these classes do a phenomenal job with the greenhouse.”
For more information about Southside FFA community garden, visit the school’s website at www.shsnnc.shs.beaufort.schoolfusion.us For a complete list of participating gardens, visit NCRPA’s Nourishing North Carolina webpage at www.ncrpa.net/NourishingNC. Also, people may “like” Nourishing North Carolina on Facebook.