Monticello Middle School is among 52 schools across the state awarded a grant to start or expand a garden on school grounds, according to a news release from the Arkansas Department of Agriculture.

Funding for the $500 grant is provided by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture Arkansas School Garden Grant Program.

“School gardens provide a hands-on opportunity for children to learn about Arkansas agriculture and where their food comes from,” said Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward. “The lessons learned through school gardens have a lasting impact on children, their families, and entire communities.”

Schools may use the funding to purchase soil, specialty crop seeds and plants, and gardening equipment. In addition to the funding, the Department’s Farm to School and Early Childhood Education program staff will provide technical assistance to schools upon request. Public and private K-12 schools, early care and education facilities, and alternative learning environments were eligible to apply for the funding.

“We look forward to working with the schools on their garden projects so many more Arkansas students can benefit from garden-based education,” said Sarah Lane, Farm to School and Early Childhood Education Program coordinator.

Funding for the Arkansas School Garden Grant Program is provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Specialty Crop Block Grant Program that was developed to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. The USDA defines specialty crops as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops.

The following 52 schools were selected for funding:

• ALLPS School of Innovation, Fayetteville
• Alma High School, Alma
• Alma Kiddie Kollege, Alma
• Anne Watson Elementary, Bigelow
• ARESC Preschool, Pine Bluff
• Arkansas Consolidated High School, Alexander
• Cabot Freshman Academy, Cabot
• Carolyn Lewis Elementary, Conway
• Cedarville High School, Cedarville
• Charleston Middle School, Charleston
• Columbia Christian School Early Childhood Education Center, Magnolia
• Crossroads West, Atkins
• First Baptist Christian School, Rogers
• Greenbrier Eastside Elementary, Greenbrier
• Greenwood Preschool Center, Greenwood
• Hazen High School, Hazen
• Health Wellness and Environmental Studies Elementary, Jonesboro
• Helen Tyson Middle School, Springdale
• Hillcrest Schools, Strawberry
• Hope Academy of Public Service, Hope
• Hot Springs Child Care Center, Hot Springs
• Hugh Goodwin Elementary, El Dorado
• Indian Hills Elementary, North Little Rock
• Jacksonville Lighthouse Elementary, Jacksonville
• James R. Tate Elementary, Van Buren
• John Tyson Elementary, Springdale
• Klassic Kidz, Inc., Pine Bluff
• Lake Nixon Outdoor Preschool, Little Rock
• Mann Magnet, Little Rock
• Math Science Technology Magnet School, Marion
• McNair Middle, Fayetteville
• Milestones Services, Inc., Conway
• Miss Poly’s Learning Center, Wynne
• Monticello Middle School, Monticello
• Nettleton Junior High, Jonesboro
• Nettleton STEAM, Jonesboro
• Norphlet Middle School, Norphlet
• North Little Rock Middle School, North Little Rock
• Omaha Elementary, Omaha
• Ozark Junior High, Ozark
• Pea Ridge High School, Pea Ridge
• Peek A Boo, Elkins
• Pine Bluff High School, Pine Bluff
• Pulaski County Juvenile Detention Center, Little Rock
• Pulaski Heights Elementary, Little Rock
• Retta Brown ABC, El Dorado
• Robert L. Davis Elementary, Alexander
• Valley View High School, Jonesboro
• Van Buren Kiddie Kollege, Van Buren
• Vandergriff Elementary, Fayetteville
• White Hall High School, White Hall
• Wynne Junior High School, Wynne