Farm to School Program Poised to Expand Statewide

Courtesy: KNOE
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RICHLAND PARISH (KNOE 8 News) "I think it brings the term healthy to the forefront."

Gracie Hosea and Rory Gresham have been applying that motto to Richland Parish schools since opening the greenhouses on Rayville High School's campus, building a hydroponic (water-based) garden, with their bare hands.

At first, it wasn't easy.

"It was a learning experience," Gresham said. "None of us knew anything about hydroponics, we handmade our systems and they all work. so, that's good."

The greenhouses have allowed them to grow eight different kinds of lettuce, and enough tomatoes, for all school cafeterias in the parish to serve to their students.

They've even found a way to pick that pesky tomato, the ones that hang at the bottom of the vine."

For the hard to find fruits, Gresham takes his sled, skims the bottom of the vines, and every now and again, finds the plump tomato where he may not have originally looked, all because he cares what students in these schools sink their teeth into.

"it's very very healthy food for a healthy mind," Gresham said.

And now, Louisiana is looking to take their example, and apply it statewide. State Senate Bill 420, which is on its way through the Louisiana House of Representatives, would require BESE to develop and implement a farm to school program statewide.

That's something Gresham and Hosea are excited for, because they know what it means for both the local farmers and students in the pelican state.

"I think it brings make the need for farmers, and be buying from as many farmers as we can," Hosea said. "And, getting a project that's fresh for our students."