Over the last several years, Florence 1 Schools has introduced farm-to-school concepts to students through gardens at many of the district’s elementary schools and middle schools. The Farm at Florence 1 expands that curriculum and provides more opportunities for students across the district.
“We had a vision of providing a space for all of our students that will allow them to be hands-on and really take ownership of their learning,” O’Malley said. “This property fulfills that dream. Regardless of their grade level, interests and needs, there will be opportunities for everyone at The Farm. Through partnerships with the community, businesses and higher education institutions, our students are going to shine at The Farm.”
Farm to School Coordinator Jeff Murrie said that students will be able to “grow it, pick it, cook it, and eat it” at The Farm, exploring careers and learning new skills, all while having fun and being active.
“Many students across the state of South Carolina are not aware of the career possibilities that exist in the field of agriculture, nutrition, agribusiness, turf management,” Murrie said. “This site will be the catalyst to provide many new opportunities to the students of Florence One.”
Murrie said he has loved seeing all of the parts of the farm project come together into the finished product.
“I decided about ten years ago that I personally was going to have a legacy; I was going to have something that I left behind that was going to make the lives of children better,” Murrie said. “That is what this Farm is all about for me: making the lives of the children in our community better.”
Along with row crops, the Farm will feature a teaching kitchen with space for students and teachers to prep and cook, raised garden beds, a greenhouse with a hydroponic system, outdoor classroom space and livestock enclosures. The district plans to incorporate veterinary science and equine therapy through local partnerships.
The produce grown at The Farm will be used in a variety of ways, including being incorporated into the menus in school cafeterias and used for lessons within the teaching kitchen. In the future a farmer’s market will be established, putting students’ entrepreneurship skills to work.
F1S Deputy Superintendent Kyle Jones said that the Farm is an important piece of the district’s continued efforts to prepare students for life after graduation.
“I look forward to all the creative thinking, learning experiences, and work that students will produce on our new Farm,” Jones said. “It is important that we continue to prepare students today for tomorrow's future and provide the skill sets they will use for their entire life. We are excited about everything The Farm offers to our community.”
The Farm at Florence 1 is located at 2101 North Williston Road.