SaddleBrooke Community Outreach (SBCO) awarded a $5,000 grant to the Ray School District for a learning garden. The district, which serves students in Pre-K through grade 12 who live in Kearny and Winkelman, created a garden to teach sustainable living practices through hands-on learning. High school and junior high students enrolled in sustainable living and similar skills classes were involved in building and maintaining the garden. Younger students planted and helped harvest the garden. Each grade planted a space in the garden, and harvesting helped teach the children about healthy food choices. Students learned about soil testing and methods for improving and conserving soil, along with the principles of vermicomposting. Student projects and journals were centered around the garden. Students also took a field trip to the UA Dairy to learn about the production of dairy products.
The Winkelman Resource Management Center, a subsidiary of the Winkelman Resource Conservation District, partnered with the garden project. Community volunteers also helped with the garden and all students were eligible to participate in this educational program. Since Kearny is considered a food desert, students in the district had no previous experience with gardening. The district currently serves 500 predominantly Hispanic and white students between the ages of 4 and 19.
The Ray School District contributed $11,000 to this program, which was supplemented by the SBCO grant. Projects are still in progress and will continue to develop over the coming years.