Like a large percentage of schools in Maine, Regional School Unit 57 has implemented several initiatives to bring local agriculture into its seven schools. However, the projects ― a new greenhouse, a couple of school gardens and composting efforts ― are relatively isolated from each other.
But after being awarded nearly $34,000 in grant funding through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm to School Program, RSU 57 Superintendent Larry Malone is hoping the district is able to forge a farm-to-school initiative that is cohesive throughout all of the district’s seven schools.
“We have [agriculture curriculum] in pockets, and what we’re really looking to do is form a sustained effort so that it becomes a part of what RSU 57 will do [districtwide] and not hinge upon a specific teacher,” Malone said.
The six-town district in southern Maine applied for the competitive national grant program this fall, after being approached by a former student and Alfred native, Alayna Morin, who had been doing farm to school work in Vermont for Americorps before she moved back to Maine. Having heard of the composting and gardening projects that RSU 57 was working on, Morin offered to help the district apply for Farm-to-School grant.