Johnny Morgan, Glaser, Jeanne
MARINGOUIN, La. – School gardens in Point Coupee Parish can make improvements in technology thanks to a $10,000 grant to purchase needed equipment.
Monsanto, the agricultural chemical and seed company, made the donation at the Valverda Elementary School on Nov. 30.
Monsanto district sales manager Dennis Marcantel said the donation is part of the company’s America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education grant program.
“Pointe Coupee is one of 176 school districts receiving funds totaling $2.3 million impacting school districts across 39 states,” Marcantel said.
Nominations by 65 farmers in Pointe Coupee Parish are responsible for the school district receiving this grant, he said.
The funds are to be used to purchase Smart boards, which are essentially electronic blackboards, and other technologies to allow the teachers to teach classes in the garden setting.
Jeanne Glaser, LSU AgCenter 4-H agent in Pointe Coupee Parish who was instrumental in getting the grant, said she was happy the farmers helped.
“There are actually three things we want to accomplish with this grant,” Glaser said. “First, we’re teaching the students the importance of agriculture. Second, we’re teaching nutrition and encouraging them to taste vegetables they never would before. And third, the grant will allow us to introduce technology into the garden.”
The grant is a pilot and will be shared among four schools in the parish and will reach more than 2,000 students in grades K-8.
George Lacour, who grows sugarcane, corn, cotton, wheat, soybeans and crawfish in north Pointe Coupee Parish, said it’s only natural for him to help to educate the children and to show them the importance of growing their own food.
“My mother was a teacher, and my sister was on the school board,” Lacour said. “We’ve been with Monsanto. Their research keeps us going.”
Garden projects in the Pointe Coupee Parish schools began seven years ago, said school superintendent Linda D’Amico. Now gardens are in schools throughout the parish.
Each class is responsible for an area of a garden, Glaser said. “And one of the highlights for them is to eat the vegetables they’ve grown.”
Even the younger students get excited about working in the garden each week, she said.
Hailey Toussant, a fourth-grade student at Valverda Elementary School in Maringouin, said she enjoys cleaning out the garden and planting seeds.
“I like planting cabbage because it was fun to work with my whole class,” she said. “I like cabbage because it’s healthy for you, and they’re good.”
For information about starting a school garden in your parish contact your local LSU AgCenter office.