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Mattituck School District seeking community votes to win garden grant

03/30/2017 4:08 PM |

The Mattituck-Cutchogue School District is looking to expand its school garden by applying for grant through the Seeds of Change program that could total $27,500.

A pool of more than 500 school and community gardens applying for the grant will be voted on from March 30 until April 19 based on what garden voters feel is most deserving. One vote per day is allowed per email. In order to advance to the next phase, Mattituck must be one of the top 50 vote-getters in the initial voting.

Community members are encouraged to visit the Seeds of Change website to vote. Seeds of Change is a California organization dedicated to promoting community-based gardening programs.

Science teacher Eric Frend said the district is hoping to use the grant to expand its already growing environmental science agriculture program.

The 54 students in AP science follow an “Advanced Placement Environmental curriculum with a twist,” Mr. Frend said. They have an indoor agriculture room where they grow plants and vegetables, such as kale, spinach and tomatoes, in the classroom using aquaponics and hydroponics.

Should Mattituck advance, the grant money would go toward purchasing new equipment for the class, garden and greenhouse, he said. By expanding the offerings and equipment the district hopes to produce more food, which would eventually be incorporated into the district’s lunch program.

The district plans to donate a portion of the food grown in the school’s garden to local food banks and sell some to members of the community so the school can continue to support the program.

The top 50 applicants then move to the final judging phase where Seeds of Change will select 24 grant recipients: 12 school gardens and 12 community gardens. Of these, two school gardens and two community gardens will be awarded a total of $110,000, averaging at $27,500 each. The remaining 10 school and community gardens will each get $10,000.

Last year, Greenport Union Free School District was one of the 10 schools that received a $10,000 grant. The district is using the money to construct a larger garden set to the side of the front of school, making it more visible and accessible to the community, Greenport superintendent David Gamberg said at the time.

Seeds of Change was founded in 1989 with a mission of making organically grown seeds available to gardeners and farmers while preserving heirloom seed varieties that were in danger of being lost due to modern agricultural advances.

Photo caption: Madison True (left) and Raven Janoski work in a soil box in Mattituck High School’s indoor agriculture lab in January 2016. (Credit: Chris Lisinski, file)

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