JA Fair High School EAST
780 students will walk the halls of JA Fair High School in Southwest Little Rock every year. Over 100 of these students will have the opportunity to join the EAST program -- education accelerated by service and technology. Located in a high poverty area of Little Rock, JA Fair EAST students use modern agriculture and environmental sciences to provide local food to their community.
Arkansas Grown Gold member, JA Fair High is a 9-12 grade public high school in the Little Rock School District. The gardening program at JA Fair is only three years old and began as an effort to incorporate environmental science into the curriculum. The first year, there were only 40 kids involved; today, the EAST program has over 100 students enrolled and many on a waiting list.
The program’s mission is to give back to the community through the service of providing food. The students host three major community service projects throughout the year: an annual plant sale, a greens festival and a sunflower mailing.
“We want to build positive relationships with the community,” said Coach Dennis Troutman, the advisor for the school gardening program.
JA Fair will also be participating in a Farm to School project, where salad greens from the garden will be served at a salad bar in the cafeteria once a week. Farm to School enriches the connection communities have with fresh, healthy food and local food producers by changing food purchasing and education practices at schools and early care and education settings. Two of the three components of Farm to School are in class curriculum about food and a school garden, which JA Fair has clearly implemented.
“This program opens the door for kids to get exposed to agriculture. Most of the kids don’t know anything about this lifestyle. They are so interested in where their food comes from,” said Coach Troutman.
Couch Troutman said this program is teaching students to create life to sustain life.
Learn more about Coach Troutman and his efforts to bring gardening and sustainable agriculture into the schools in the Arkansas Grown 2019 edition or find them on Facebook at JA Fair EAST.
Do you have a school garden or are you interested in a school garden like JA Fair? The Arkansas Agriculture Department in partnership with Farm Credit offers monetary prizes through the Arkansas Grown school garden of the year contest annually. The 2018 application period closes on September 21. Visit https://www.agriculture.arkansas.gov/aad-grants to learn more about the school garden contest and the prizes offered.