Local Economies Project | The New World Foundation

Local Economies Project

Rondout Valley School District Creates Innovative Agriculture and Food Science Program

We are pleased to be supporting the Rondout Valley Central School District’s expanded agriculture and food science initiative with grant funding from the Local Economies Project totaling $750,000. The initial research for the District’s proposal was funded by a $24,000 planning grant, followed by a recently announced $726,000 award that will be applied to curriculum development as well as the construction of greenhouse and laboratory facilities on the District’s campus in Accord, New York.

Our grant, which was three years in the planning, will allow the District to expand its existing agriculture program to provide comprehensive hands-on training in agriculture, food science and technology. Not only will the program help students become educated food consumers, it will also provide a foundation for students interested in careers in farming or agriculture-related science and business.

“Our overall goal is to engage our students in learning about food from production to consumption,” said Superintendent Rosario Agostaro. “We want to encourage kids to understand what local food means.”

Plans are for the creation of an educational research-grade greenhouse where students can explore botany, biology, earth science, and the environment in a hands-on way. In addition, a home and careers classroom will be completely redesigned and transformed into a state-of-the-art food science and preparation facility. The District will work with local restaurateurs to design the space.

Since Rondout Valley has the highest concentration of active farmland in Ulster County, the District will be able to collaborate on its initiatives with a variety of agriculture-based agencies and businesses, as well as educational institutions and restaurants, many of which have already been part of a unique collaboration with Rondout Valley schools for some time.  These include, among others, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County, Ulster County Community College, The Rondout Valley Growers Association, From the Ground Up, The Culinary Institute of America, and The Ulster County Farm Bureau.

A greenhouse proposal will soon be submitted to the State Education Department and curriculum development for the facility will likely start this summer.

In notifying the District of the grant, LEP Director, Bob Dandrew, said:

“We believe strongly in the importance of educating young people about our food system. We’re also excited about helping students to explore farming and food science as potential career paths. Congratulations to Superintendent Agostaro and his team for combining hands-on education with classroom curriculum in a program that will surely become a model for other school districts.”

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