College News
College News

Wayne County extension garden project serves as an outdoor classroom for youth

Wayne County extension garden project serves as an outdoor classroom for youth

Wayne County extension garden project serves as an outdoor classroom for youth

A shining example of the Cooperative Extension Service community dedication is the success of the Wayne County FFA garden project.

Monticello, Ky.—

The University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service commitment to community outreach and education extends to every corner of the state, transcending age groups and boundaries. A shining example of this dedication is the remarkable success of the Wayne County Future Farmers of America (FFA) garden project.  

This transformative initiative, driven by student involvement, promises a lasting impact on the community, local schools and the surrounding area. 

What began as a modest project by county extension agent Glen Roberts has burgeoned into an expansive six-acre undertaking known as the Wayne County FFA School Garden. This ambitious project showcases a diverse range of crops cultivated with care and dedication.  

Most harvested produce finds its way into the school food service program, reducing costs for the local school system and creating a positive ripple effect throughout the community. 

“What started as a small-scale initiative has now grown into a thriving project that benefits the local community, students and the school's ag program," Roberts said.  

The organization found its footing on a plot of land at a local school initially growing grape tomatoes, broccoli and spinach. The choice of crops was deliberate, requiring minimal processing, making it easy for the school staff to incorporate the produce into their meals. The project encouraged community involvement, with students and volunteers working to cultivate and harvest the crops.

Wayne County FFA garden.
Photo provided by Terry Bertram.

“The garden serves as an outdoor classroom, offering students hands-on experiences aligned with their in-class lessons,” said Wayne County agricultural teacher and FFA advisor Justin Horton. “Beyond education, this initiative addresses the need for fresh produce in the community. Over the years, the project's scope has expanded to include the school garden and indoor hydroponics, aeroponics and aquaponics systems in the Agricultural Technical Center.” 

The garden project achieved several objectives, including giving students a sense of ownership and purpose, providing fresh and diverse produce for the school's cafeteria, and creating an opportunity for students to taste new foods. Moreover, the surplus harvest is shared with the local community, including a local food pantry, House of Blessings

"Extension works closely with students and depends on their involvement in all aspects of the production of these crops on the high school campus," said Terry Bertram, Wayne County agriculture and natural resources program assistant. 

The Wayne County FFA School Garden transcends the boundaries of a single school; it's a county-wide endeavor that encompasses the school system and its five cafeterias. The project aims to promote agricultural education and encourage student participation in hands-on learning experiences. 

"We encourage students to consider careers in agriculture, however, that is only one of the initiatives we pursue,” Bertram said. “We created this opportunity through the extension network, allowing students to feel like an integral part of a team, take personal initiative and invest their personal time in furtherance of this program." 

Roberts says the Wayne County FFA School Garden project is not just about growing crops; it's about cultivating young minds, fostering a sense of responsibility and nurturing a passion for sustainable agriculture practices. It serves as a dynamic classroom where lessons are rooted in real-world experiences. 

“This project has not only fostered a sense of belonging for students but has also equipped them with life skills and valuable work experience,” Roberts said. “For many, it's a steppingstone toward future employment opportunities. The employers in the community have noticed the dedication and teamwork displayed by these young individuals and have welcomed them with open arms.” 

To learn more and stay updated on the Wayne County FFA School Garden's activities, contact Bertram at or visit

– 30 – 

The Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment is an Equal Opportunity Organization with respect to education and employment and authorization to provide research, education information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function without regard to economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, physical or mental disability or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity.  


Related News

Contact Information

Scovell Hall Lexington, KY 40546-0064