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Halifax County Schools is among the 18 local school systems recently awarded Farm-to-School Rapid Response funding by the Farm to School Coalition of North Carolina. 

The funding is intended to support urgent needs and long-term capacity building for local food purchasing for school meals and local food educational programming in ways that increase the skills, knowledge, and connection to local foods for children and their families. 

The schools were awarded $4,000 each.

Funds from the grant will be used to purchase a shelter for the farm’s tractor. Funds will assist in purchases for seeds, plants, and supplies for planting and harvesting food for the local community. 

“We are grateful for any funding that we are awarded,” said Greenleaf Farm Manager Reginald Cotten. “We started with 2 acres, then 7 acres to 9 acres with plans set in place for 12 acres.”  Cotten said about 50 percent of the produce raised on the farm this year will be donated to people who have been affected by COVID-19. “Our vision is to become more self-supportive and to employ more students and increase their hours of employment. I am passionate about this initiative.” 

Alfreda Smith, director of Career and Technical Education, is not only proud of the end products grown on Greenleaf Farm, but of the life lessons the students continue to gain through this food to school project. “I believe that the contribution these students make to families, schools, local communities, and themselves will build their confidence, self-worth, communication and critical thinking skills, and give them a sense of pride and ownership over their own health.”

Said Smith: “Parental and community engagement increases public health, improves, real-world, hands-on learning, positively impacts the classroom, and the local and surrounding economies reap the benefits.

The Farm to School Coalition of North Carolina is providing the funding to assist schools and school nutrition programs in meeting the nutrition and educational needs of children during school closures and in building farm to school capacity, believing that farm to school is a valuable contribution to the health and well-being of students and our communities, the school system said. The funding is provided with support from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation of North Carolina.