Farm to School:

Hands-on healthy learning

Farm to School (also called schoolyard gardens) is rapidly becoming a national phenomenon. Extensive research details how schoolyard gardens enhance curriculum while improving the physical activity, health and nutrition of students, teachers and parents. These benefits take place regardless of the economic level of the school community.

Strong business and community support

The River District Partners worked with a team of experts to create a transformational gardening and farming project involving Whitewater Academy, Whitewater Middle School, River Oaks Academy and Mountain Island Elementary in Mecklenburg County and Catawba Heights Elementary and Ida Rankin Elementary in Gaston County.

Through corporate partnerships, the River District has established or expanded schoolyard gardens both directly and through a collaboration with Rivendell Farms, a sustainable working farm in Huntersville, and the Gaston County Cooperative Extension. Volunteers have spent hundreds of hours introducing students and teachers to gardening and connecting those experiences back to curriculum.

Next steps

Each school is developing a master campus plan that includes components such as schoolyard gardens, composting, wildlife habitats, outdoor classrooms and other STEM-focused projects.

At the middle school level, connections to job/career awareness are integrated into the curriculum. We plan to expand schoolyard gardens and incorporate construction-related projects appealing to middle and high school students. However, economically disadvantaged areas such as those served by some River District schools need additional financial help to effectively implement farm to school principles.

Longterm plans

Our long-term plans include creating a working farm, a food hub to process produce from school gardens and small farms, and school meals that include nutritious food that students helped grow.


Download the report: Sustainable Child 2013

The River District has prepared an extensive plan for nurturing our students, “Sustainable Child 2013: Farm to School and Community Partnership.” Click to download: Sustainable Child 2013


STEM learning and gardens