URBANA, Ill., (WCIA) — Sola Gratia Farm in Urbana is working even more with the Urbana School District to enhance agriculture education. The plan has been in the works for years, now it is coming to life.
The Farm to School program in Urbana introduces students to agriculture and healthy habits. It shows students how to grow their own food, how to cook healthy recipes and it can also lead them to nearby farms.
Now, thanks to a $100,000 grant from the USDA, Sola Gratia Farm is able to boost this program even more.
In June, the Better School Lunches Act was signed into law. House Bill 4813 gives school districts more freedom when deciding on a food company. Before, districts had to go with the company that was the lowest bidder.
Fiona Munro, outreach and education coordinator at Sola Gratia, went to Urbana High School. She said she wishes she had a hands-on experience like this one while she was a student.
“I’d really like to give kids the opportunity to learn about this side of things. Sustainable agriculture, healthy eating, nutrition,” she said. Munro added that this can be a really powerful program to guide students down a career path they want to later follow in life.
Munro is excited to create educational kits and add a coordinator position with the school district as well. The coordinator will help establish a solid, consistent curriculum.
The curriculum is in the works, but they hope to add seed trays, soil, gloves and seeds for planting exercises to the kits.
“The coordinator will pull together all the different pieces. On-school garden, in-classroom curriculum, the farm visits, improving dining services at the schools to incorporate more local foods,” Traci Barkley, the farm’s director, said.
For now, Sola Gratia’s vegetables are used in classrooms as learning tools.
One day, they hope students can also eat their fresh produce in the lunch room each day.