Grantee will Help Learning Garden Grow
Jennifer Grabner is co-founder of the Southern Boone (County) Learning Garden which is a ½ acre garden located on the Southern Boone R-1 School District campus. In 2007, Grabner received an NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher Grant to grow and market a winter CSA in at her family farm in Central Missouri, and she spoke about the Southern Boone Learning Garden at the 2012 Missouri Farmers Forum. The Southern Boone Learning Garden received a $475,000 five-year grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health to expand its operations and form the Southern Boone Healthy Community Partnership.
Source: Columbia Daily Tribune, Jodie Jackson Jr.
A five-year grant totaling $475,000 from the Missouri Foundation for Health will be used to create the Southern Boone Healthy Community Partnership and expand the Southern Boone Learning Garden.
The half-acre learning garden, on the south campus of the Southern Boone R-1 School District, has been a focus of outdoor learning since 2007, when the garden started as an after-school club run by two volunteers serving 13 elementary students.
The garden now serves more than 700 students with the help of more than 60 volunteers.
"We like to take learning outdoors," garden co-founder Jennifer Grabner said. "We once took a group of fourth-graders out to a garden and tied it to what they were learning in literature."
The ultimate focus, of course, is about where food comes from, healthy eating and exercise, Grabner said.
"The response from our students is always incredibly positive when they have the opportunity to go outside and learn from their experiences with the garden," said Southern Boone Primary School Principal Sue Haugen. "For our teachers, the novelty of that is enjoyable as well."
Haugen wasn't familiar with the learning garden concept when she took her current post three years ago. To see what the garden offers for students and teachers is one thing, but "the other thing that is amazing is what it offers the community," she said.
Haugen said the learning garden volunteers have been able to maintain the garden and develop teaching plans and other tasks "with almost no overhead."
"It's really amazing, in my mind, that they have been able to do that for so long," she said.
Grabner said the grant was awarded after two failed tries. "To be turned down twice before and then get it this time, it means that much more," she said. "The first thing I did was I knelt down and cried."
Many components of the Healthy Community Partnership will be new programs as a result of the grant, including garden workshops for youths; learning garden services for older students; Walking School Bus programs for schools in the Southern Boone School District; professional development workshops that combine teaching in the classroom and garden; and assessments of community health needs, according to a news release.
"We want this to be a grassroots, community-driven effort," Grabner said. "It can mean a lot of good things all the way around."
The partnership will include the city of Ashland, the Southern Boone County R-1 School District, the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services, the PedNet Coalition, University of Missouri Extension's Healthy Lifestyle Initiative, the Southern Boone Chamber of Commerce among others.
Grabner said she was especially happy about the Walking School Bus program — a national program the PedNet Coalition has administered in Columbia Public Schools.
"We want to get more kids walking to school," she said. "It is a program we have been wanting to get down here for quite some time."
Want more information? See the related SARE grant(s) FNC07-668, Growing and Marketing for a Winter CSA in Central Missouri.