Students in NE Florida enjoy garden-based learning through a Bethesda Farm grant.
Children sitting in a classroom five days a week attempting to learn abstract concepts gets old: for students and teachers alike. Bethesda Farm’s Community Microfarm initiative leverages proven research that real learning increases in garden-based activities. Planting, caring and harvesting vegetables and fruits gives tudents the “something” to learn about. Community Microfarms uses gardens at elementary schools to promote Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) — as well as communication — skills.
“Children come alive when they are given the opportunity to learn outdoors,” says Jack Hellein, who served as Bethesda Farm’s liaiason to Clay County in 2016-2017. “They’re learning important life skills outside the classroom. They’re also learning how delicious healthy vegetables can be.”
Bethesda Farm provided a $40,000 grant to underwrite microfarms at four Clay County schools for the academic year. The State of Florida provided matching funds.
Bethesda Farm is a non-profit organization. The parent company, Bethesda Foundation, leverages all profits from its operations at the farm — raising and caring for hens that lay USDA 100% Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, pasture-raised eggs — to support its mission of “Growning Community.”
It’s not just the students who benefit from the Community Microfarms project. Teachers who coordinate the Microfarms at the schools receive a stipend for their efforts. Perhaps much more important than financial support, the project encourage teachers faced with the sometimes seemingly insurmountable challenges.