Students dig in to outdoor classroom & greenhouse project in western Minnesota

January 9, 2018 |

A Grants in Place project in rural Minnesota connects Breckenridge, MN students to their food. Students are starting seeds in their classroom, and will bring the process full circle to their own school cafeteria!

We love hearing from rural teachers who have received one of our "Grants in Place." Abbigail Johnson, a teacher in Breckenridge, Minnesota (population 3,270) recently wrote to let us know that her young students are busy diving in to a project to create a new outdoor classroom and greenhouse space that will promote place-based learning for years to come. Read her story below!

Getting dirty does not sound fun for everyone, but there is nothing better in the eyes of Abbi Johnson, 4th grade teacher at Breckenridge Elementary/Middle School. Students received a Grants in Place grant from Rural Schools Collaborative in the spring of 2017 and has used the money to help inspire students to get outside and grow plants.

Students are able to learn about the process of growing plants, measuring plants, charting plant growth, what healthy food options they can grow at home, how a greenhouse functions, how to prepare healthy food, and the journey will end with the classroom partnership and cafeteria where students will prepare their vegetables to be served as a healthy food option at lunch.

Mrs. Johnson has a total of 22 students benefiting from this project which began on January 2, 2018. Students started their journey by looking at various seeds, describing the seeds, drawing the seeds, and finally planting the seeds. They were then placed under the classroom grow lights. Students will be measuring and documenting their plant heights in about two weeks.

Alongside Rural Schools Collabortative, Cargill Wahpeton also helped fund classroom growing materials and a greenhouse which will be utilized starting in April.

Overall, students have truly enjoyed getting dirty and learning about how to grow edible plants. They cannot wait to get into the greenhouse more!

We're excited to get more updates about Ms. Johnson's project and can't wait to see the outdoor classroom and school garden in action! According to Ms. Johnson, in addition to starting plants under their classroom grow lights, students will be "serving food in February, and transferring plants to the greenhouse in March/April. We will be having the 4-H program keep up the greenhouse through the summer months." Thank you, Ms. Johnson, for providing an excellent, engaging, hands-on learning opportunity for your rural students!

Sincere thanks to West Central Initiative, our partner in funding Minnesota's Grants in Place projects!

The 2017 Grants in Place program included more than twenty funders and individual donors who came together to invest $135,000 in rural place-based student-centered projects. Funding was provided for 35 projects serving 45 communities in 11 different states.

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