The Lower Grand River Organization of Watersheds (LGROW), in collaboration with Plainsong Farm, Trout Unlimited and the Kent Conservation District, has received a $38,000 grant from the Wege Foundation for a pilot program that exposes middle-school students to sustainable agriculture and land/water conservation. The two-year curriculum will provide practical, immersive farm-based environmental education for middle-school students in the Rogue River watershed. Students from Sparta Middle School and East Rockford Middle School will participate in the program.
This project connects to the Wege Foundation’s long-standing commitment to environmental sustainability by cultivating a new generation of watershed stewards who are knowledgeable about land-use practices and sustainable food systems. Plainsong Farm will provide a place where teachers from the watershed can bring students of different backgrounds for shared experiential learning and practice. Specifically, they will learn about: soil health, water conservation, integrated pest management and pollinators, sustainable food systems, and agroecology. Student learning will be connected to real-life conservation taking place in the Rogue River and Indian Mill Creek watersheds under the $8 million Regional Conservation Partnership Program grant the Grand Valley Metropolitan Council received from the Natural Resource Conservation Service in 2017.
“Sustainable food production and rural land use are important to maintaining and improving watershed health. We’re excited to nurture practical skills and a stewardship ethic in local students through this program,” said Eileen Boekestein, Environmental Education Coordinator at GVMC.
Upon completion of the pilot program, the collaborative organizations will develop a strategic plan for Plainsong Farm to be used for ongoing, year-round environmental education programming, including demonstration workshops highlighting student-led stewardship projects.
“When we began Plainsong Farm, we hoped to create a location for environmental education for students, faith groups, and all members of the community. It’s exciting to see this program begin,” said Nurya Love Parish, Executive Director of Plainsong Farm.