An organization that works to help local children build healthy eating habits is planning to build a new urban “teaching farm” on College Avenue in Fayetteville.
Apple Seeds Inc., a non-profit that seeks to inspire “healthy living through garden-based education,” has launched a fundraising campaign to create the Apple Seeds Teaching Farm on two acres of property just north of Ozark Natural Foods.
The farm will include demonstration gardens to teach children how to harvest healthy foods, and will offer educational programs designed to teach children the importance of eating a healthy diet.
“Part of our big vision is to see a healthy, thriving Northwest Arkansas,” said board member Mary Thompson. “Obesity, diabetes, and heart disease has become such a major concern, we feel it’s important to start teaching children at an early age the fun part about eating healthy.”
The land for the farm was provided to the organization by an anonymous donor, so all the money raised via a recently launched Kickstarter campaign can go to building infrastructure items for the farm, such as an irrigation system, tool shed, deer fence, and garden beds. Future plans call for a chicken coop, an orchard, and other amenities.
Board member Bernice Hembree said creating a teaching farm has been a longtime goal for Apple Seeds.
“We work with several local schools, and we were getting requests to provide programs for more schools than we had manpower for,” Hembree said. “Meanwhile, we were aware of teaching farms like this in places like New York and Portland that had been really successful, and we were looking to create something like that. When we got this land, it was really perfect timing for us. Now these schools can come to us.”
In addition to operating the teaching farm, Hembree said Apple Seeds Inc. will continue to serve local schools with gardening clubs, school garden education, farm field trips, student-run farmers markets, and healthy snack classes.
Hembree said if everything goes well, the teaching farm will be up and running in early 2014.