REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio (WCMH) – A local school district will receive $91,000 in federal grant money to expand farming learning experiences in an urban setting.
Reynoldsburg High School’s Livingston campus is home to a very special tennis court – a thriving space with watermelons, peppers, all types of food that the district uses in its classrooms, but students and teachers would like to do so much more.
“We’re all about sustainability and regenerative farming,” said Trevor Horn, agriculture and food science teacher at Reynoldsburg High School. “Our goal is to be as off the grid as possible out here.”
The grant is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s $12 million investment in Farm to School Grants this year, which have been awarded to 176 grantees, the most projects the program has funded since it began in 2013.
Horn said the $91,000 Department of Agriculture grant will allow them to upgrade the space for education, from creating a pollinator garden to installing solar panels on the greenhouse.
“Water is huge for us out here,” Horn said. “Obviously on a tennis court, we don’t have accessibility to that, so capturing rainwater not necessarily tap into our building, but allow us to grow as naturally as possible and sustainable as possible.”
This is the second year of the garden in the tennis courts, with this summer being its first harvest.
“We are one of the few urban school districts, or even suburban school districts, who have an agriculture pathway as part of our high school programming,” said Chief Academic Officer Dr. Jocelyn Cosgrave. “Typically, that’s something you’d see in more rural areas in our state.”
In addition to expanding the garden’s space, the grant will create new opportunities.
“Part of this grant is going to be to hire student workers who will come in and tend the gardens in the summer and care for them,” Cosgrave said. “I have a feeling we’ll have a ton of applications for that.”
Horn is looking forward to how far students can push the garden forward, especially after a year mostly apart.
“I miss the kids,” he said. “The kids were the ones that gave us motivation to come up with new ideas and really harbor our goal and our mission.”
Horn and the district are adding more to the space each year, hoping they’ll soon have enough crops to sell at local farmers’ markets.