Did you know that Halifax County Schools has a farm-to-school program? Greenleaf Farm is an outdoor learning lab for students enrolled in horticulture and agricultural science classes. Students learn Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) as well as business skills related to entrepreneurship and marketing.
The 8-acre farm is student-led but does utilize volunteers during planting and harvest times. In the spirit of community, Halifax EMC partnered with the school system and Greenleaf Farm to provide a portion of the farmland used by the program on Highway 481.
Reginald Cotten, a former Halifax County Schools agricultural teacher, is the farm manager. He believes the contribution these students make to the community not only builds their confidence, self-worth, communication, and critical thinking skills, but also gives them a sense of pride and ownership over their own health.
Greenleaf Farm was recognized as the first North Carolina School District Farm to receive GAP Harmonious Certification which allows produce harvested from this farm to be served to students in all district cafeterias. Students are also authorized to sell harvested fruit and vegetables to local vendors, members of the community, and larger markets such as grocery chains. Greenleaf Farm is self-sustained and the farm budget is based on profits from those sales made to the school district and community.
“Our goal is to not only nourish our children’s bodies, but also their minds, while providing affordable fresh produce to families as we support local economies,” said Cotten.
Personally, I believe our community is so fortunate to have a farm-to-school program where students learn valuable life skills and we as a community have the opportunity to support their efforts. I encourage you to stop and purchase fresh vegetables the next time you see a yellow Halifax County Schools truck parked outside of a business or at a local farmer’s market. Not only are you investing in your own health, but you are investing in our students’ futures.