- With grant funding, Alaska's remote Southeast Island School District uses aquaponics to produced fresh produce in greenhouses warmed by wood-fired boilers, District Administration reports.
- The project not only provides fresh produce for the school lunch program, but students can also sell the surplus to community members — and some schools in the district also sell eggs from their poultry program.
- Beyond supporting better nutrition, the program helps students gain valuable new skills, and students and community members gain employment because of the need to cut firewood and stoke the boilers to keep the greenhouses functioning.
Projects that benefit the community at large offer many benefits to schools. Students learn valuable skills through such programs in the context of a wider world experience. They also learn core values such as responsibility, citizenship and the value of community involvement. Such projects often also help build up a student transcript that can be beneficial for the college admission process or scholarship applications.
Community gardens or environmental efforts also build goodwill in the community, because community members see students as a beneficial part of society rather than a drain on resources. These community collaborations strengthen school networks and can encourage community and business partners to support school efforts.
School gardens are becoming increasingly popular, not only because of the community connection, but also because they offer students a new perspective on food and nutrition. Students are more likely to consume fruits and vegetables that they have had a hand in producing. Gardening methods such as aquaponics and hydroponics also offer an added STEM element to the curriculum. Grant funding for school gardens is available from several sources, which may help defray the cost of such programs.