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New Gardens Feed Students and Nurture Growth

Pleasant Grove Elementary School
Heflin, Alabama

With 75% of its school population qualifying for free and reduced-price meals, Pleasant Grove Elementary School in Heflin, Alabama knows that most students likely don’t have access to healthy, balanced meals at home. Eager to educate kids about healthy foods, the K–6 school applied for and received a $1,000 Game On grant to build a school garden and add more green space on school grounds during the 2018-2019 school year.

Emily Altman, the school counselor, immediately understood the potential impact of the program Pleasant Grove planned to implement. She only wished they had done it sooner.

“It is going to be a great program with huge benefits!”

Using the grant funds, Pleasant Grove built three large, raised garden beds that allowed them to demonstrate to students how easy and cost-effective it is to plant seeds and cultivate them into healthy food items they can eat at home. During growing season, students in grades 4–6 visited the raised beds once a week for 30 minutes or more as needed to maintain the garden, while the younger students stopped by regularly to see how the vegetables and trees they had helped plant were growing.

Science teacher Brittany Williamson was excited about the opportunity to integrate the gardens into her classroom curriculum.

“This brings a whole new dimension to my middle school science classes,” she said.

Students and staff also planted zinnias in and around the garden that they plan to give to parents at the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year.

Pleasant Grove used another portion of the grant funds to create an updated, outdoor play space and learning center for students, adding sod to an unused basketball court with cracked, thin pavement in order to increase the green space available for kids to play and be physically active.

Thanks to both improvements made possible by the grant, Pleasant Grove students are now able to enjoy more time outside while also learning firsthand the benefits of gardening and harvesting their own food.

The grant was made possible through funding from the Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama. To learn more about our grants, sign up for news.