Inside INdiana Business

Johnson County high school farm lands federal grant

(photo courtesy of Scott Roberson/Daily Journal)

FRANKLIN, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A farming program at Franklin Community North High School has received a federal boost.

Inside INdiana Business’ partners at the Daily Journal report the school has received a more than $72,000 Farm to School grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to expand the farm-to-table program.

The agriculture program began in 2019 and has transformed what was an empty plot of land just north of the high school into a nine-acre garden growing fruits and vegetables that are served in the school’s cafeteria. The program currently has about 220 students involved, including some from Franklin Community Middle School.

The USDA funding will be used to hire a part-time coordinator to manage the garden and oversee the transfer of food to the school’s cafeteria, according to the publication. It will also cover the cost of additional equipment and training for cafeteria staff, as well as an aquaponics system and hoop house.

Alicia Geesey, an agriculture teacher at the school, tells the publication the fruits and veggies grown at the garden include blackberries, raspberries, peppers, tomatoes, corn, squash and pumpkins. Apple trees are being planted at the site as well.

The school began serving vegetables grown in the garden this past spring. Officials tell the Daily Journal students will be able to eat chickens raised on the farm beginning next spring, marking the first protein to come from the program.

Geesey says if the school can raise enough money, a barn could be built that would include a classroom, lab and space for chickens and cattle.