Sharon School Receives Grant for Garden
SHARON — For six years, Sharon School teacher Danielle VanCleave, with the help of Weakley County Farm Bureau, planted the seeds for valuing agriculture in the minds of her second graders. Along with harvesting cucumbers, sweet potatoes and eggplant, her students turned to the garden beds adjacent to the school’s playground to help uncover the secrets of the earth along with mathematics, science and reading.
This year VanCleave’s vision of the gardens feeding young minds and also members of the Sharon community are coming true. She used the weeks of closure, the knowledge and workforce assistance of the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network, plus the labor of family and friends to expand to four beds and is planting what will be a summer bounty of vegetables, herbs and even pumpkins. The Farm Bureau and Weakley County Farm Bureau Women are helping to make it all possible with financial contributions and offers of expertise.
Last week, VanCleave received an Ag in the Classroom Grant worth $250. Similar grants through the years have helped to sustain the beds as learning laboratories for the school. VanCleave also received a scholarship to attend a national Ag in the Classroom training workshop last year.
Since COVID-19 closure-related meals distribution from Weakley County Schools continues throughout the summer until classes resume in August, VanCleave hopes the fresh vegetables help supplement the breakfasts and lunches. WCS feeding efforts exceeded 250,000 meals and reached up to 2,000 students since the schools closed in mid-March.
“I am able to meet so many of my standards and skills using the garden. And now our classroom asset can become a blessing to the community,” VanCleave said in her thanks to the Farm Bureau upon receipt of the check.
Others who have contributed greatly to the project include NTWLFN’s Ashley Kite-Rowland and Samantha Smith Goyret; community members Will Harris, Ali Kingsland Stalter and children Madison & Carson, Steve Douglas, and Nathan Rush; Sharon Appliance; and WCME.
Anyone interested in volunteering to help maintain the garden in June and July is invited to contact VanCleave at Danielle.Harris@wcsk12tn.net.