Cheyenne County Farm Bureau worked with both USD 103 and USD 297 to implement a grant project to add Tower Gardens to both schools. Tower gardens are compact, hydroponic methods of growing fresh produce. The schools each received $1,250 grants from the Hansen Community Grant Fund for Cheyenne County in 2020.
American Farm Bureau statistics state that most people, grade school students included, are at least 3 generations away from experiencing life on a farm. Farming and ranching make up less than 2% of our nation’s population. Most people in the USA do not even know a farmer or have had an opportunity to visit a farm. Therefore, the majority of our local students have never been around growing crops. They know nothing about the cycle of planting, growing, and harvesting a crop. With the lack of exposure to farming, there is a huge disconnect with kids understanding how food gets on their plate. Their knowledge of farming, plant life and the effort it takes to grow produce are all learned from a textbook.
As people become further and further removed from the family farm, the necessary knowledge of how to grow and tend a garden is lost. Therefore, eating habits have changed to rely on processed food, fast food or buying all your fresh produce from the local grocery store. Concepts such as sustainability, healthy living and food production continue to be concepts our students have no knowledge in. Our goal of placing a Tower Garden in at least one classroom in the elementary school, would start to change the way students are learning about food on their plate. They can learn to be responsible for their choices of healthy eating by what they are able to produce in their own gardens. Learning gardening skills would be a great benefit and useful tool for the remainder of a student’s lifetime.
Healthy eating can often be an expensive lifestyle. Fresh fruits and vegetables come with a pricey grocery bill. Cheyenne County sits in the middle of a food desert. We are at the mercy of what fresh produce our local grocery store can bring in or choose to drive a distance to find a larger selection of fruits and vegetables at a lower price. Either way the reality of eating healthy becomes expensive. An alternative to buying fresh produce is growing your own. As students see the process of how a seed is planted, what it takes to grow healthy, productive plants their knowledge base will grow with the classroom garden. It is our hope that the gardening skills they learn with the Tower Garden would be transferred to other areas, possibly encouraging their family members to grow a garden, becoming a gardener as an adult and realizing the importance of agriculture. As a result, respect for the farming and ranching industry will increase.
The experience of growing your own food also encourages student to become more responsible individuals. The care of a garden is a daily chore that aids kids in becoming responsible adults.
It would be wonderful to have a Tower Garden in each classroom in our schools. The benefits are limitless. Our goal is to start with one unit and encourage the teachers to share the experience with other grades and classrooms in the building. The Tower Garden has the potential to allow all the students in the grade school to taste and experience gardening at its best.
USD 297 Students
USD 103 Students