FAISON, Duplin County - Schools across the state, 22 in all, will be receiving a special kind of grant that will help them start or expand gardening and greenhouse programs.
One of those schools in our area, North Duplin Junior Senior High School. It is getting $2,000 from the grant, money that will be used to build or expand vegetable gardens in the schools. Hunter Jones knows a lot about soil and is anxious to participate and learn more about agriculture.
"Depending on what type of soil you have, if it is sandy soil, it will barely hold water," Jones said. "We cut it in half and put the sides up and on the bottom. We have two boards and layers of boards. We butted them up and screwed them together to where it would hold soil."
That leads to the teachers doing more.
"I applied for the grant last fall and the purpose of the grant was give my students hands-on learning experience in raising their own garden, working with soil nutrients and plant management," said Lynn Marshburn, a teacher at the school.
The first lady of North Carolina, Kristin Cooper, awarded the grant to North Duplin.
"When kids are hungry, it's hard for them to learn, it's hard for them to graduate, it's hard for them to get good jobs whenever they graduate and it has a real negative economic impact on our state," Cooper said.
The $44,000 grant comes from the UnitedHealth Foundation and Whole Kids Foundation.
"Duplin County happens to be a target area because it actually is a county where there are some very significant food deserts," said Robert Waterhouse with UnitedHealthcare.
The schools can now create vegetable gardens and teach students about nutrition and healthy eating. The students said they look forward to eating the fruits and vegetables they've grown. But the grant doesn't limit schools to vegetable gardens. It can also be used to construct native bird habitats, raise fish and build bee hives.