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Burney-Harris-Lyons Middle School

Located on the west side of Athens-Clarke County among old farm fields, BHL currently has 13 raised garden beds, a greenhouse, a hydroponics system, three chickens and more on their growing agricultural landscape. Goals of the Lions Garden include educating students and the community about local and sustainable food, environmental engagement and more. Recently, the Classic City Lions Club has become a generous supporter of the Grow It Know It program and the work being done at BHL. The name of the school tied in nicely with the LIONS Club and the group had a mutual interest in helping middle school children in Clarke County. The Lions Club has provided funding for six new 4X8 raised beds for the school garden, purchased some items needed to complete the Aquaponics rebuild at the school, and donated beekeeping equipment for the Honeybee project being initiated there.

INITIATIVES:  School garden, school farm animals (sheep, chickens, and rabbits), after school sheep club, school garden produce market, cafeteria compost program and cafeteria fruit collection and redistribution program. 

GROW IT KNOW IT GARDEN VISTAS: Jim Warrner (Current), Becky Glennie (2016-17, 2017-18)

SCHOOL GARDENHEADS: Stephanie Reed Assistant Principal, Barb Saunders Agriculture Science, Shane McCord FACS

Clarke Middle School

Our first school, CMS continues to evolve as a sustainable school. Programming around gardening, FFA, sustainability and the farm to table movement have existed for a number of years with the dedication of many staff members as well as the buy-in from administrators and, most importantly, the students. Our group of chickens provide classes with fresh eggs for recipes that also incorporate fresh vegetables from our garden beds. Unwanted food items such as juice cartons and bananas are also used in cooking labs which cuts down on waste and expenses. We compost and recycle during all lunch periods and in classroom kitchens and there are student volunteers who help to keep this programming running each day.

Students at Clarke Middle get to learn through experience about animal husbandry and sustainable urban farming. Students care for the schools herd of goats and flock of chickens as well as frequently working in the large school garden. Grow It Know It provides ongoing support that allows these resources to thrive. Grow It Know It also provides many opportunities for Clarke Middle School students to participate in special projects related to sustainability, nutrition, and farm to table experiences. Clarke Middle School is also the home site for our Kitchen Garden Corps summer camp program

INITIATIVES: School garden, school farm animals (goats, chickens, ducks), adaptive garden for limited incidence disability (LID) students, pollinator garden, weekly school garden produce market, fresh egg mobile market, food pantry, cafeteria compost program, sustainability curriculum, and cafeteria fruit collection and redistribution program, and after school student sustainability clubs

GROW IT KNOW IT GARDEN VISTAS: Tess Wilson (Current), Rosemary Gay (2017-18), Julia Calder (2016-17), Wick Prichard (2014-15, 2015-16)

SCHOOL GARDENHEADS: Tad MacMillan Principal, Courtney Bolden Agriculture Science, Hope Zimmerman FACS, Jenn Thomas CMS LID, Cecilia Hyers 7th Grade Science, Greg Brav 6th Grade Special Education, Ashley Na 7th Grade Science, Sasha Baker Gifted, Michelle Vecchio-Weinmeister Gifted, Peggy Bailey Gifted

Hilsman Middle School

Hilsman, located on the east side of Athens, is undergoing a transitional year while the main building is being renovated. Students have been engaged in healthy food demonstrations, planting activities, work days and food reclamation under the Grow It Know It since 2016. Given the limited space in the satellite building, this current year’s garden has taken longer to establish. But thanks to the UGA PSO Day of Service, Hilsman has two raised beds and a new state of the art compost bin. The school is also growing food in two wheelchair accessible beds that were constructed last year with the help of UGArden and the special education teachers at Hilsman. Recently Hilsman’s principal Utevia Tolbert has encouraged an initiative to establish a food pantry to address food insecurity among students and families at Hilsman. Funds raised from the produce market will be used to purchase non-perishable goods and hygiene products from the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia that will be available to eligible students and parents.

INITIATIVES: School garden, school farm animals (goats and chickens), weekly school garden produce market, food pantry, cafeteria compost program, sustainability curriculum, and cafeteria fruit collection and redistribution program

GROW IT KNOW IT GARDEN VISTAS: Katie Stanhope (Current), Erin Seymour (2016-17)

SCHOOL GARDENHEADS: Renee Martin Agriculture Science, Erin Seymour FACS, Audrey Hughes 7th Grade Science and Hilsman Science and Energy Team

W. R. Coile Middle School 

Mention W.R. Coile Middle School and many locals will say they’ve never heard of it. Located on forty-six acres about a mile and a half north of Winterville, the school hosts approximately 650 students. The school’s rural location propels the students’ interest in outdoor learning. Tucked behind the school and somewhat hidden by construction, the garden boasts an impressive display of organically grown vegetables and herbs. Kale, broccoli, collards, mustard and turnip greens, beets, lemon balm, mint, and oregano are grown in the garden. All of the produce is regularly harvested for markets at Coile and other Athens-Clarke County schools. When she’s not tending to the garden, Ms. Stewart works with students to further the school’s composting and food reclamation efforts. She has also taught lessons on entomophagy, bearded dragons, and decomposers found in compost. Her goal as a VISTA is to show students the importance of sustainability, nutrition, and environmental responsibility.

INITIATIVES: School garden, school farm animals (chickens), aquaponics system, pollinator garden, weekly school garden produce market, food pantry, cafeteria compost program, and cafeteria fruit collection and redistribution program

GROW IT KNOW IT GARDEN VISTAS: MacKenzie Stewart (Current), Greg Brav (2017-18), Brendan Nordgren (2016-17)

SCHOOL GARDENHEADS: Eden Hulsey Agriculture Science, Sarah Lockman FACS, Steve Sacco 6th Grade Social Studies 

Athens Community Career Academy Although we do not have an AmeriCorps VISTA solely dedicated to the Career Academy, we are often over helping Community Chef and Culinary Arts coordinator Manny Stone get the word out that a background in culinary arts, especially those with a focus on building community and sustaining agriculture and the environment, leads to a sound grasp on not only future challenges but also choices. If you are in the area, come over and check out our collaborations with Manny and his students, our Meals in the Middle community (and now also international) fundraiser dinner series and our Kitchen Garden Corps summer lunch series. Try out their student-run Buzz Cafe as well for some of the best coffee, tee, and cookies in the area.


Russell Middle School

Center for Innovative Teaching (CFIT)

As part of our work with Barrow County School System, we partner with teachers at the Center for Innovative Teaching like Yargo Elementary 5th grade teacher Julie Wood to create new lessons using the school garden. For more about our work with CFIT, please visit Julie’s Grow It Know It page of her class website.