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West Branch nets funding for garden, new tech program

Jul 27, 2023

BELOIT – West Branch Local Schools has received two national grants for the upcoming school year.

The district received funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Education.

West Branch received $34,259 from the USDA to purchase Flex Farms indoor hydroponic garden units, which will help students plant, grow and harvest crops in the school cafeteria. West Branch was one of only five schools in Ohio to receive this grant.

Coming from Patrick Leahy Farm to School Grant Program, the funds support planning, developing and implementing farm-to-school programs, which give students the opportunity to learn about nutrition and agriculture through hands-on experiences. The students grow fruits, vegetables and herbs.

Fork Farms started its Flex Farm program in 2010 in New York City. Originally an independent contractor building rooftop gardens, Fork Farms has transformed into a global organization that has been involved in over 1,000 Flex Farm installations across the United States and globally.

West Branch received $150,000 from the U.S. Department of Education and Ohio Department of Education to purchase equipment for the district’s new career tech Industrial Maintenance Program.

The new program will have four main courses – manufacturing operations, welding, industrial maintenance, and hydraulics and pneumatics. Items purchased for the program include welders, welding simulators, welding screens and welding booths, along with safety equipment such as helmets and gloves.