Polk Central receives mini-grant from ASAP for farm field trip

Published 5:02 pm Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP) recently awarded $1,800 in mini-grants to seven area schools. The grants will fund farm field trips for students in preschool through high school this spring and fall.

“Authentic farm experiences like farm field trips build positive associations with fresh, local food and highlight farmers as important role models,” says Molly Nicholie, ASAP’s Growing Minds Farm to School program coordinator. However, “Field trips are often difficult for schools to implement because funding is a limiting factor,” Nicholie notes, adding, “ASAP is proud to offer these funds and help make positive on-farm experiences possible.”

Schools starting the new year off with mini-grants are: Cullowhee Valley School (Jackson County), TC Roberson Progressive Education Program (Buncombe County), Nevitt Forest Community School of Innovation (Anderson County, S.C.), Asheville Montessori (Buncombe County), Asheville City Preschool (Buncombe County), Polk Central Elementary School (Polk County) and Emma Elementary (Buncombe County).

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Andrea Walter’s fourth grade class from Polk Central Elementary School will be accompanied by AmeriCorps volunteers and Polk County Office of Agricultural Economic Development representatives Patrick McLendon and Kacy Spooner to Harmon Dairy Farm.

This field trip will highlight the economical benefit of agriculture in Polk County and how decisions regarding the purchase of local versus out-of-state food can affect health, the local economy, and local ecology.

Heather Nagle and Susan Cooper, kindergarten teachers at Emma Elementary, decided to plan a visit to Gladheart Farms in Asheville after realizing many students didn’t have a real understanding of where their food comes from.

“Most of the food in their homes comes from the grocery store,” says Nagle. “We thought, how can we help our students understand that food on the shelves began with seeds on the farm? So, we proposed a field trip to follow the food from Gladheart Farms to the distribution center to the shelves of Ingles.” The forthcoming trip is part of a year-long project on healthful living.

For details about all of the field trips planned by grant recipients, as well as more information about ASAP’s Farm to School program, visit growing-minds.org.