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School-based garden program expanding in Florence 1 Schools as a result of Duke Energy Foundation grant

Thanks to a $5,000 grant from the Duke Energy Foundation, three more schools in Florence 1 will be able to start a garden. Lester Elementary, Timrod Elementary and Wallace Gregg Elementary will each benefit from the grant, according to Florence 1 Schools’ Farm to School Coordinator Jeff Murrie.

“Many of the schools that have gardens already were able to start them after receiving a grant from the City of Florence and the local ‘Eat Smart, Move More’ chapter,” Murrie said. “These three schools, unfortunately, did not qualify for that grant because they are located outside of the city limits. I was thrilled that the grant application I submitted on their behalf to the Duke Energy Foundation was approved.”

Timrod Principal Elizabeth Jackson said that she is eager to begin planning and planting the new garden.

“We are excited to begin our school-based garden at Timrod Elementary,” Jackson said. “This project will help our students become more responsible while learning about agriculture and its importance in our world.” 

Currently, over fifty percent of schools in Florence One have a school-based garden.

Murrie said that ag-education is an important thing for students to experience, especially now as the traditional education format has shifted.

“During this unprecedented time, it is more important than ever for students to have the opportunity to be outside while learning about where our food comes from and the importance of sustainability and eating more nutritious foods,” Murrie said. “We see daily the excitement and joy experienced by students learning about plants and the environment. The ultimate goal is to not only impact the early learner today, but to impact future generations.”

Murrie said that while Lester, Timrod and Wallace-Gregg will start out small, like the other schools in Florence 1 did, he has seen many of the school gardens become a passion project for students, staff and community members.

“We always want them to start out small so that it isn’t overwhelming and they can be successful as they are taking on something new,” Murrie said. “Oftentimes there is one person who is really passionate about the project and they get other people on board through workdays and other things like that. It really does take a whole school community to make these gardens successful.  My role as the Farm to School Coordinator will be to offer all the support and guidance that I can to guarantee the success of the new gardens at Lester, Timrod and Wallace Gregg.”

For more information about the school-based gardens or the Farm to School Program in Florence 1 Schools, contact Jeff Murrie at