When Caitlin Chapman started at Monroe Demonstration Academy this fall, she did not expect her school day to involve growing and harvesting microgreens. A seventh-grade student at the North Tulsa school, Chapman is among the students in Monroe's agribusiness classes offered through a collaboration with Food on the Move.
"When I moved here, I didn't think we'd actually get to take care of plants in class," she said, eyeing the trays of produce in the agribusiness classroom. Food on the Move, which has partnered with Monroe since the 2020-2021 school year to provide urban agricultural programming, recently received a $100,000 Farm to School grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That in turn, generated an additional $30,000 in matching money from the George Kaiser Family Foundation.
That money will allow Food on the Move to further bolster its urban agriculture programming within TPS, executive director Kevin Harper said. "This will give the students more opportunities for growing, as well as increasing the entrepreneurship portion," Harper said, noting that the nonprofit wants to extend its reach to include the school Monroe feeds into, nearby McLain High School. "Agriculture touches everything. It does. And that's why this class is so important. We're in a food desert, so we're addressing that need right now."
What initially started out as only traditional outdoor gardening beds on campus during the pandemic has since expanded to include hydroponics and aquaponics, which require additional supplies, such as the additional lights directly over the hydroponic columns along one wall and the large fish tanks in the corner of Alice April's classroom.
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