Cobleskill daycare gets funds  to teach agriculture literacy

ContributedA garden box constructed last month by staff at the Cobleskill Campus Child Care Center at SUNY Cobleskill, shown in this undated photo.

The Cobleskill Campus Child Care Center was one of thirteen schools across the state to receive funding last month for programs to promote students’ understanding of the source and value of agriculture as it affects daily life.

The funds were awarded by New York Agriculture in the Classroom, an outreach program of Cornell University, through its agricultural literacy grant program, according to Katie Carpenter, program director.

Funded through the New York state Department of Agriculture and Markets, the program is designed to help schools enhance their curriculums and create living classrooms with the latest agricultural concepts, she said.

“Our goal is to work with K-12 teachers to use agriculture as a lens or a context for learning,” Carpenter said. “These teachers maybe aren’t certified agriculture teachers, but they want to give students an authentic learning experience.”

Now in its second year, the agriculture literacy program is one of several administered by AITC to help fund creative ideas teachers have with clear curricular connections, Carpenter said. 

Proposals were awarded up to $1,200, which could be used to fund field trips, purchase new textbooks, start a courtyard chicken coop or expand a school garden, she said.

The Cobleskill Campus Child Care Center received $600 for its outdoor garden and classroom, according to Christy Scott, executive director.

The idea for the garden was born two summers ago as part of the center’s Eat Well, Play Hard program, she said.

“The garden would not only reduce food costs for the center, but involve children in the process from start to finish,” Scott said.

The center cares for about 90 children from birth to age 12 during the summer and about 70 throughout the school year, Scott said. The students would be responsible for planting, watering, weeding, harvesting and cooking the food throughout the year.

The center partnered with Curtis Lumber to build the garden beds, which were completed last month, Scott said. Although the grant funds arrived too late in the season to begin planting, she said the beds may be filled with soil or composting material to prepare for next season, or planted with winter crops to be harvested by spring.

Unadilla Valley Central School District was also awarded funds for a hen house project, according to a media release.

For more information, visit agclassroom.org/ny.

Sarah Eames, staff writer, can be reached at seames@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7213. Follow her @DS_SarahE on Twitter.