UACES Facebook Cleveland County Student Gardens | Student garden project in Cleveland County, Arkansas
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Cleveland County Student Gardens logo with kids gardening illustration

Rison School Kindergarten Raised Bed

What is the purpose of the Cleveland County Student Gardens project?

The concept of the Student Gardens began with the Cleveland County Childhood Obesity Prevention Committee, organized by the County Health Officer, Dr. Marks Attwood.

In 2017, Dr. Attwood organized a group in Cleveland County to address the increase in Body Mass Index in county schools. One way to address the increase in student overweight and obesity issues is to encourage students to increase fruits and vegetables in their daily food choices. Studies show that if children are involved in planting and harvesting fruit and vegetables that they are more likely to eat them. 

How the project developed

The school administration at each elementary school agreed to be a part of a school garden program. Each school received a $1000 grant from Arkansas Farm Bureau to cover the cost. ($500 from the state Farm Bureau and $500 from the local Farm Bureau) 

UA Extension provided teachers with the School Garden Lesson Plans by the Whole Kids Foundation and American Heart Association. These lesson plans provide teachers with age-appropriate garden lessons and activities. Lesson plans align with state educational standards.

Kingsland School Strawberries

What are the timeline and
 curriculum for the gardens?

Timeline: Raised beds were established on the school campuses in January-February of 2019. As shown in this photo, Extension agents and team members help add soil to newly constructed raised bed gardens at Woodlawn Elementary.

Teachers will instruct students in the following curriculum throughout 2019:

January-February= “Composting”
March= Sprouting seeds/starting slips
April= Building a Square Foot Garden “Map”
May= Garden Bug-Friend or Foe?

Each grade will plant a sweet potato (March) for “slip” production and plant the beds prior to the students leaving for the summer.  When the students come back in the fall there should be sweet potato vines on top of the soil and potatoes ready for harvest. 

When school resumes in late summer, the gardens will be cleaned out, compost added back and planted with cool season crops (to include strawberries) for production through November and the dormant season.

What are the goals of the student gardens?

The overarching goals for the project are to allow the kids to learn how healthy food is grown and to play an active role in their own food production process. It is with their time and emotional investment that we hope to encourage kids to be more open to eating healthy, home-grown foods.

2nd Roll Compost Woodlawn School

What organizations and
schools are involved?

  • UA Cooperative Extension
  • Kingsland Elementary (pictured)
  • Rison Elementary
  • Woodlawn Elementary
  • Cleveland County Childhood Obesity Prevention Committee