Farm to School
Grand opening for Manawa garden
By Holly Neumann
The Manawa Elementary School held a ribbon cutting ceremony on May 12, for their new garden project.
“The project was initiated several years ago as a cooperative effort between the UW-Extension, the school, and community groups,” said Carol Wortz, one of the organizers. “The extension officer, Connie Abert, was seriously injured in an automobile accident and the project was unfortunately set by the wayside. I was asked to restart the project this past spring.”
“School gardens are wonderful for not only the school and but also the community,” said Penny Tank, Farm to School Supervisor, from the UW-Extension Office. “There is a lot of outdoor education that is so valuable.”
According to Tank, Farm to School Nutrition Educator Ashley Clark has been working with the MES students throughout this project, teaching them about gardening, teamwork and also the value of their produce.
“The students get to see where their food comes from, from start to finish,” said Tank. “And they learn about the hard work involved in growing their produce. Connie would be so happy to see that this project finally happened.”
The purpose of the garden is to provide an outdoor environment where teachers can provide hands-on learning experiences to reinforce classroom science instruction.
“Students will gain skills that will prepare and motivate them for life-long participation in agriculture,” said Wortz. “Many of the student activities and experiences reinforce the Next Generation Science Standards in the area of life science.”
Staff and students worked together to install the gardens and each grade level will be responsible for the planting, care and harvesting of their produce.
“The produce will be shared among participating students,” Wortz said. “Any excess will be donated to the School District of Manawa’s Project Backpack, which provides food to struggling families in the district.”
Additional produce will also be donated to the local food pantry.
“This project is important because it will provide teachers with an outdoor classroom where they can add a real-life context to enhance instruction in science standards,” said Wortz. “It will provide students with real-life experiences that will prepare them for participation in agriculture as students at Little Wolf High School and as successful members of this community.”
Wortz hopes that students will gain knowledge, skills, interests and habits that will improve their quality of life now and in the future.
This project is being completed with the support of the fWisconsin Farm Bureau Foundation’s Ag in the Classroom program, the Waupaca County NuAct School/Community Garden program, Manawa FFA Alumni, Joe and Amy Starr of CrossCut Solutions in Manawa, the School District of Manawa, and the Manawa Elementary School PTO.