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Rochester, NY: Community School Garden

  • Subject: [cg] Rochester, NY: Community School Garden
  • From: Adam36055@aol.com
  • Date: Fri, 18 Jun 2004 08:06:34 -0400

Message   :   Program cultivates kids' skills
By Corydon Ireland 
Staff writer 
(June 18, 2004) ? Two hours a week during the school year, Jan McDonald farms in a North Clinton Avenue schoolyard. 
Her helpers at School 9, ages 8 through 13, learn organic gardening, including the mysteries of mulch, compost, vermiculture and crop rotation. 
?Rochester Roots? is the core program at Politics of Food, a nonprofit that McDonald, of Irondequoit, directs. It promotes hands-on math and science: counting seeds, planning (using garden grids) and observing nature in ways impossible in the classroom. 
But Politics of Food, in Rochester since 1975, is having trouble with the politics of money. 
Individual contributions are up, but traditional funding from local foundations and church groups started to fall off a year ago. 
At risk is a budget of $82,000, the fate of the group?s two half-time staffers, and the Rochester Roots summer program, spanning 20 hours a week. 
With half the year nearly gone, only a quarter of the money has been raised, said McDonald. 
?It?s tough out there,? said Mary Boite, the other staffer. ?We?re going month to month.? 
The group this year applied for a $300,000 Department of Agriculture grant. It would float the group for three years, and require moving Rochester Roots into two more schools. But a decision will not come until September. 
On Sunday, at the annual Politics of Food dinner, new board members were introduced to fiscal realities. 
?This is not a giant budget, and we?re doing everything right,? said Bill Bross, finance committee head. ?We are struggling so mightily.? 
Rochester Roots is the local version of a nationwide movement ? school-community gardening programs that bring the reality of soil, insects, cultivation and marketing to elementary school classrooms. It supplements curricula on science, culture, nutrition and ecology. 


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