During 2011-2012, a team of individuals from the Fayette and Pocahontas County school systems, High Rocks Educational Corporation and the West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition came together to form a West Virginia school garden focus group. The immediate aim was to support two AmeriCorps volunteers who had started working on school garden projects in Fayette and Pocahontas Counties – to share resources, success stories, challenges and solutions.
As the members of the focus group continued meeting, they realized that other school gardeners would benefit from a collected toolkit of best practices for development of school gardens and other educational activities related to farm-to-school efforts. They found that there were many existing resources to help school gardeners inside and outside West Virginia, but that there was no “one-stop shop” where they could find a complete collection of WV-specific resources and guidance. So, they set out to create one.
Geared towards elementary and middle school-aged students, the toolkit would be based on the first-hand experience of the Pocahontas and Fayette County as well as other school gardeners statewide. The group created an outline of topics that would be useful to new school garden managers (including the six new school garden AmeriCorps volunteers who would be arriving shortly in Cabell, Fayette, Greenbrier, Kanawha, Pocahontas and Wayne Counties) and invited individuals involved with school garden projects to write articles based on their first hand experiences. To flesh the toolkit out further, the group also added other resources and news articles related to West Virginia school gardens.
The toolkit continues to evolve and expand as a long-term, community-owned resource. If you would like to contribute an article or suggest an additional topic, please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are grateful to our authors who have contributed thus far.
The following people played a key role in planning and assembling this toolkit:
Sarah Riley, Executive Director, High Rocks
Leah Smith, AmeriCorps*VISTA, West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition
David Seay, Child Nutrition Director, Fayette County Schools
Adrienne Cedarleaf, AmeriCorps member, Pocahontas County Schools
Andy Pense, AmeriCorps member, Fayette County Schools (now a statewide Farm to School coordinator)
Cheri Hall, former Child Nutrition Director, Pocahontas County Schools
Lisa Dennison, Child Nutrition Director, Pocahontas County Schools
Savanna Lyons, Program Director, West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition
Additional partners and contributors:
WV Dept. of Education – Office of Child Nutrition
WVU Extension Service – Putnam, Kanawha and Berkeley Counties
West Virginia State University Extension Service
WV Department of Agriculture
WVU Extension – Family Nutrition Program
Appalachian Coal Country Team