Plant the Seed has been awarded a $49,500 USDA Food and Nutrition Service Farm to School Turnkey Grant for FY 2021. Only two organizations in the state received this annual award.

Plant the Seed is an organization that inspires and empowers young people to effect meaningful change in their lives through hands-on learning in school and community gardens.

The funding will allow Plant the Seed to expand and enhance its programming to serve as many as 600 pre-K students weekly at Cambridge, Ross and Davis MNPS Early Learning Centers in Nashville during the upcoming school year.

Despite school closures and social distancing, many garden programs thrived even in the middle of a pandemic. In addition to enhancing its offerings at the MNPS Early Learning Centers, Plant the Seed has recently expanded to Head Start North and is in talks with several other schools to bring garden education to students from pre-K through fourth grade.

“This funding comes at a time when school administrators are making hard choices about what in-person school looks like, as students return this fall, and we are pleased to be able to offer and enhance outdoor choices to give teachers options,” Susannah Fotopulos, Plant the Seed founder and executive director, said in a news release.

The organization was notified it was awarded the grant in part because of its adaptability during the pandemic. Plant the Seed pivoted from in-person learning to take-home garden kits in several locations, as well as offering online videos for teachers to share with students. This grant will allow them to continue adapting — adding a manual for teachers to get more mileage out of the online resources, so they can more effectively integrate garden-based learning in the classroom.

The other organization to receive the grant was Obion County Schools Union City, Tennessee, for the development of a Farm to School Action Plan.

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