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Partnership with Springfield Urban Agriculture Coalition receives $300,000 grant

Grant will fund the installation of ten school gardens in Springfield Public Schools

Media Contact:
Springfield Urban Agriculture Coalition
Lucy Howell, Melissa Millsap
(417) 873-6343
lucy@springfielduac.org; mel@urbanrootsfarm.com

Springfield, MO, January 4, 2011—Drury University and the Springfield Urban Agriculture Coalition (SUAC) have received a $300,000 grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health. The three-year grant will fund The Dig In R-Twelve (DIRT) Project, which will plan and install ten school gardens throughout the Springfield R-XII district. DIRT, in collaboration with the Drury School of Education, will also provide and teach curriculum to address core state education standards and use the gardens to complement classroom learning by teaching healthy habits in a fun, active, hands-on environment. The grant also includes funds to establish infrastructure for an urban farm in a low-income neighborhood.

“Giving students the opportunity to help create, maintain, and harvest gardens at their school sites is an educational application of content from many areas of the curriculum,” says Ann Wallenmeyer, K-12 Science Facilitator at Springfield Public Schools. “Lessons will be learned that will reach far into a student’s future, well beyond public education,” Wallenmeyer remarked.
The DIRT Project aims to address increasing obesity rates in Missouri. It will promote healthy, active lifestyles by providing education to the community and the school children about the benefits of growing and using sustainably produced, locally grown food.

Midtown School Garden, located on Cox North property at Division and Benton, serves as Springfield’s pilot school garden for students from Boyd Elementary and Pipkin Middle School. Students use the garden as an extension of their classroom curriculum and help with duties such as planting and harvesting. Drury University’s School of Education and Child Development initially funded the Midtown School Garden through a $10,000 math grant from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. CoxHealth and Community Partnership's Caring Communities Initiative donated land and resources to initiate the first of the ten gardens that will receive funding from the grant. At the pilot garden, the grant will provide a high tunnel greenhouse that will allow students to utilize the garden year-round.

Applications have been sent to all schools in the R-XII district, and the additional nine schools to receive DIRT Project infrastructure and curriculum will be announced by the end of January 2011. Garden planning and installation will begin in February 2011.

The DIRT Project will collaborate with several Springfield organizations including Springfield R-XII Public School District; the YMCA; Childhood Obesity Action Group (COAG), Slow Food Southwest Missouri, CoxHealth, Community Partnership's Caring Communities Initiative and Drury University.

Springfield Urban Agriculture Coalition (SUAC) promotes healthy lifestyles and environments through hands-on education about production and consumption of locally produced, natural, healthy foods.

The Missouri Foundation for Health provided funding for this project in whole. The Missouri Foundation for Health is a philanthropic organization with a vision to improve the health of the people in the communities it serves.

Visit springfielduac.org to learn more or help with additional materials, signage for gardens, fruit trees and shrubs.

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