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City schools to expand garden program

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Posted: Thursday, July 5, 2012 7:42 pm | Updated: 3:22 pm, Tue Jan 22, 2013.

The Charlottesville City School Board voted unanimously on Thursday to allocate $32,000 in one-time spending to hire a part-time gardener and instructor for the city schoolyard garden program.

The gardens will be used to offer after-school enrichment programs and provide materials for teachers to incorporate into their curricula, officials said.

In 2009, Buford Middle School received a $25,000 grant from the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation to create a garden. The garden has been used as an “outdoor classroom” to teach the benefits of growing one’s own food and to explain the connection among land, food and community, officials said.

Since then, the program has expanded to include gardens at several elementary schools. The gardens have supported lessons related to health, environmental stewardship, community engagement through hands-on learning, officials said.

After gardens are added to Clark and Burnley-Moran elementary schools in the fall, all elementary schools in the city will have gardens, said Assistant Superintendent for Administration Services James Henderson.

“This is a wonderful initiative,” said board chairman Ned Michie. “It’s gotten great support from parents and the community at large.”

The $32,000 will come from funds that were dedicated to snow removal, emergency labor and service contracts but not spent because of mild weather last winter.