Briggs is bringing the farm to school
Briggs Elementary School has created a micro-farm on-site at their school to integrate nutrition and agriculture education through hands-on learning activities. Three Briggs’ teachers, Ashley Dawkins, Cindy Martin and Jeff Murrie, applied for and received a grant of $4,000 from the SC Farm to School program that helped get their program off the ground. Students, teachers, parents of Briggs students, community members and organizations have all come together to make this exciting project become a reality.
Briggs’ farm is nearing completion and the community is invited to the grand opening during their annual Taste of Briggs fundraiser April 14 at 6 p.m. SC Farm to School is a program that connects schools with local agriculture. The goals of the program are to: • Increase the number of SC grown fruits and vegetables in schools • Promote healthy eating habits • Provide nutrition and agriculture education • Support the local economy.
The program is a collaborative partnership between the South Carolina Department of Agriculture, South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, South Carolina Department of Education, South Carolina Department of Social Services and Clemson University. “The Farm to School concept is a true personal passion of mine and I am thrilled to be able to share it with our students,” said Jeff Murrie, Briggs teacher and co-sponsor of the Briggs 4-H Club. “Although we are just finishing up with the bricks and mortar of the project, I feel strongly that all the students that have been involved up to this point have already started learning invaluable lessons for their future,” Murrie continued.
“This has truly been a community effort and we look forward to celebrating with all our partners during the upcoming Taste of Briggs that is appropriately themed Farm-to-School this year,” said Murrie. The City of Florence helped kick things off with the farm project by providing the building materials and Adam Swindler, Beatification and Facilities Division Manager for the City, helped coordinate the site preparation. Justin Matthews built the 14 raised beds as part of his Boy Scouts Eagle Scout project.
Steven Reed, Paul Reid and Scott Burns were instrumental in getting things off the ground – literally. Each grade, K-6, is responsible for planting and caring for one of the 14 raised vegetable or fruit garden beds, along with the 4H Club. There is also a bed for the community members in the Briggs neighborhood. Currently they have planted tomatoes, zucchini, squash, lettuce, beets, radishes, kale, sugar snap peas, collards, herbs, blueberry bushes and a fig tree. Thanks to the construction efforts of Robert Keefe, in addition to the fruit and vegetable garden, Briggs will have a state of the art chicken coop.
The children will learn about the responsibilities of caring for the hens, collecting the eggs and eventually selling the eggs at the Saturday morning Farmers Market in downtown Florence. The Florence County Farm Bureau’s Women’s Committee, ArborOne Farm Credit, Briggs 4H Club and Pee Dee Land Trust donated funds to help create the chicken coop. Each year Briggs Elementary School hosts the ‘Taste of Briggs’ and the proceeds help fund much needed programs at the school.
This year they are excited to combine this fun family friendly event with the debut of their new farm and have themed this year’s event ‘Farm to School’. The festivities presented by HopeHealth Pediatrics will be from 5-7:30 p.m. and will include seven tents with various foods for sampling made from produce from SC farmers, including boiled peanuts from McCall Farms, rice and cowpeas from Carolina Plantation rice, chicken wings from Maypop Farm, collards, strawberries and smoothies.
In addition to the interactive booths with Clemson Extension, 4H Club, Pee Dee Land Trust and the USDA, kids of all ages will enjoy the combine simulator, cow milking station, dancing and chorus performances, jump castles, and more. Admission tickets are $5 and may be purchased in advance in the office at Briggs Elementary School, 1012 Congaree Drive or at the door. Game tickets are $5 per game.