Pinnacle receives grants for garden

Nov. 22, 2013 @ 06:35 AM

RUTHERFORDTON— The garden at Pinnacle Elementary School is going to continue to grow and prosper with the help of two grants that the school recently received totaling $1,312. 

The school began its garden three years ago and it has been supported and developed by multiple grants and donations. 

"I want the kids to have that hands-on experience and know that they can produce something, they can grow something," said Cindy Dotson, instructional support at the school who has been involved in all of the gardening and grant-writing processes. "They can produce something and be successful." 

The first grant the school recently received is a Rutherford Electric Membership Corporation Bright Ideas grant for $512. The money will be used to purchase small equipment for younger students to use while working in the garden. 

"It's going to be used to buy equipment for kindergartners, first and second graders that cannot handle regular shovels or rakes," Cindy Dotson, instructional support at the school. "It will also buy some spatulas for cooking and some small equipment so they can cook and taste." 

The second grant is a Learning Links grant from the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina. This grant is $800 and goes to help teachers offer hands-on learning opportunities to students in and out of the classroom. Dotson said the money will be used to build a three-tier light stand for germinating plants and making the garden more sustainable. 

"As a school we are going to have plant sales. We are going to try to get the kids to take orders and we are going to germinate plants. Then in the spring we will have the sale to bring in extra income for the school," Dotson said. "Our goal is to get to where the sales will be bringing in some of the money instead of gift-wrapping sales and cookie dough sales. We would be producing our own." 

The students at Pinnacle are very involved in the gardening program. The school has several clubs that do different things with it like the newly formed entrepreneurs club. One of the club's goals is to start doing verma-composting with worms and to build a fish pond in order to sell the fish. 

"We can use the product produced by the worms to help the garden be sustainable plus they hope to sell the worms for fishing," Dotson said. "I have written some grants to try to fund it, but if we don't get them we are still going to try." 

Dotson said the main goals of the garden are to teach the students the importance of health and a new lifeskill. 

"Along with growing, we talk about the nutrients, the history of the plant and the benefits of eating healthy and getting exercise," Dotson said. "I'm hoping they'll make a choice to grow something healthy and not just stop by McDonald's. Instead of buying junk, I would like to see our students buy something nutritious." 

The school also has five different 4-H clubs with over 80 kids that work in the garden after school. 

"Every year it grows and it's getting better," Dotson said.