HomePlace-Based ForumGrow Our Strengths: Missouri Students Turn Plans Into Action

Grow Our Strengths: Missouri Students Turn Plans Into Action

Glenwood School in West Plains, Missouri, has started a new project with big hopes of contributing to their community. In the spring of 2011, Glenwood K-8 school district in Howell County received a $4,600 Coover Foundation Place-Based Grant from the Community Foundation of the Ozarks’ Rural Schools Partnership.

The Glenwood “Grow Our Strengths” Garden Project — created by Juliet Cobb, a parent, local high school teacher, and President of the Glenwood School Foundation — is a project that will teach students how to grow their own produce for use in the school kitchen and to donate to the community food pantry, along with learning to compost waste from the school kitchen.

The students at Glenwood have been hard at work planting and maintaining their gardens in the past few weeks. Composed of thirteen raised beds, each class, kindergarten through eighth grade, has a raised bed in the garden, and the science department has three. Each grade has been able to decide what to plant in their bed. The garden is located in the back of the school close to the gym. Students pass by the garden often and get to see the progress of the garden from day to day.

Glenwood has formed a Garden Club, sponsored by Cobb, made up of 30 students who meet weekly to weed and water the garden. The members of the Garden Club signed up to be on different crews such as design, construction, seeding, journalism, fertilizing, irrigation, weeding, and composting crews. Even though they are divided into groups, they all work together to get everything done.

 Glenwood-Garden-01“We’ve had a number of after-school work days lately. Students have impressed me so much! They work together and work hard! Their excitement is contagious,” says Cobb.

A dream of Cobb’s for many years, the Garden Project finally became reality when Cobb applied for and was awarded the Coover Foundation Place-Based Grant. The project is now funded by the Coover Grant at Community Foundation of the Ozarks and by donations from community members and parents. The Coover Grant, issued through the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, is a part of the Rural Schools Initiative to help schools use the resources they already have and to help rejuvenate them again and again to keep them useful. With money from the grant, the students purchased all the supplies they needed to build raised beds, a windmill, a worm farm, a gardening shed, and plants.

Since Glenwood is located outside the city limits, farms make up most of the business in their district. When Cobb saw the opportunity, she jumped on it, and she has been working hard with the students to get everything built and planted. She and her family have spent much of their free time helping students with the project. In addition, the students in the garden club have also devoted much of their spare time to the project. Over their spring break, they assembled the beds, windmill, and wheelbarrel.

Glenwood-Garden-02The food grown in the garden will go to the needy families in the area. The students will also have a chance to pick some of the food and take it home to eat at their three harvest days during the summer. Through this project, the students will learn every aspect of planting, growing, and harvesting food. They will take scraps from the kitchen at school and put them in the worm farm, then take the worms and put them in the gardens where the scraps will be put back in to the soil for decomposition. Cobb also hopes that the students will be able to sell their produce at the farmer’s market, so that they will also get a taste of entrepreneurship. Over time, there will be minor changes in the way the Garden Project is executed, but the main goal of the project will always be to teach students how to take advantages of the resources they have available to them and how to maintain a garden so that it can continually be useful to them.