Farm-to-school movement growing in Roanoke

Published: Jun. 28, 2022 at 6:59 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - For students in the RCPS+ summer program, the garden at James Madison Middle school was their classroom Tuesday morning.

Lessons included the basics of composting, and the value of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Organizations including LEAP, the Local Environmental Agriculture Project, and Virginia Cooperative Extension have been bringing similar lessons to students at several Roanoke schools.

Ellen Craddock is the Director of Food and Nutrition for Roanoke City Public Schools.

“They are really excited about seeing these fresh fruits and vegetables. They’re excited when they’ve had an opportunity to learn where it comes from. And then also taste it and know that it tastes good and it’s good for them,” Craddock said.

With programs that started over ten years ago and planning over the last two, the partners say this farm-to-school movement is just beginning.

“The long-term benefit I see is teaching kids some life skills, said Tom Fitzpatrick, RCPS Supervisor for Science.

“Healthy youth that understand where their food comes from, and how to grow it and how to prepare it,” added Mo McGonagle, LEAP Director of Regional Partnerships.

And that makes sense to rising 7th grade student Copeland Breakell.

“I think it will be fun for kids to do and good for them, because then they can start growing their own garden at home,” Breakell told WDBJ7.

A USDA farm to school grant funded two years of planning, and the partner organizations say that work will set the stage for future growth.

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