CFMC Impact Grants At Work

Fresh Way Farm Teaching Students How To Grow Food

Written by: Robin Reid, Storyteller/Content Manager

The Community Foundation of Morgan County (CFMC) exists in our community to connect individuals and their families, friends, and neighbors with local nonprofits working on long-term solutions for problems such as poverty, homelessness, substance abuse, etc. When people give, lives can be transformed, and the community thrives economically and socially.

We call it Philanthropy with Measurable Impact.

CFMC Impact Grants provide programs and services to deal specifically with issues that are hindering people from turning their lives around for the better. When you give to an Impact Grant, 100% of every donated dollar goes back into our community and CFMC will match it $1 for $1!

One of the Impact Grants that donors support is Fresh Way Farm as it’s building three aquaponics labs at county schools to teach students how to grow plants and vegetables, using recycled water and growing live fish.

Indiana Agriculture and Technology School (IATS), Green Township Elementary, and Mooresville High were the schools selected for this project led by Fresh Way Farm Chief Executive Officer Greg Marlett. Funding pays for the necessary materials, construction and education (Aquaponics Master Class) required to build the labs.

Aquaponics is the growing of fish (aquaculture) combined with the production of plants (agriculture) in a symbiotic process that produces higher quality food using less water and space and in shorter time than traditional growing methods.

At Green Township, the aquaponics lab will hold nearly 410 gallons of water and 32 square feet of growing space, the largest school aquaponics system in the area. Fresh Way Farm is committed to having the best agricultural and environmental education program around.

The white trough will be used to grow plants and veggies while the blue tank will house live fish.

“Agriculture is a big part of the Green Township community. The school is surrounded by farms and many students are involved in 4-H, showing animals, farming and so on. One goal of our agriculture program is to teach kids where their food comes from and how connected everything is; changing different aspects of the growing process can have positive and negative impacts to plants, animals and us,” said Green Township Elementary School Principal Paul Spahr. “Another goal of our program is to introduce students to opportunities in agriculture, especially jobs and programs like aquaponics. This partnership with Fresh Way Farm and the Community Foundation has allowed us to cover both goals at one time. Students are able to have an experience that isn’t available at any other elementary school in Indiana.”

All three schools are using agriculture to teach multiple Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) principles. The aquaponics labs will teach students to think “outside the box” as they learn to grow plants/vegetable and fish in a nontraditional, but highly efficient method. Students will also focus on plant science to develop new ideas, learn how to become ecologically responsible as well as local food production and processing.

These labs will also be used to teach horticulture, water quality, soil health, animal feed production, etc. while at the same time producing fresh fish and produce to be used in school kitchens, distributed to food pantries, and for sale at local outlets (i.e. farmer markets). Students also learn business skill such as time management, team building, goal setting, and responsibility.

Make the decision today to join the CFMC team and become an Impact Grant Donor. Every gift, regardless of the dollar amount, makes a tremendous difference in Morgan County. Go to www.cfmconline.org/donors or send an email to info@cfmconline.org.

 

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