Mayflower Elementary School won the Best Overall Garden award in the Arkansas Agriculture Department’s 2017 School Garden Contest.

The school was awarded a $1,000 cash prize for their win.

Farm Credit partners statewide with the Arkansas Ag Department to provide annual prize money for the contest.

"Parent volunteer Brooke Lasley was instrumental in planning Mayflower Elementary’s first garden last spring," a news release stated. "Brooke and school representatives were honored by [Gov.] Asa Hutchinson at the Arkansas [State Capitol] on [Nov.] 13. The governor presented the school with their award and $1,000 prize."

Lasley said she was motivated to lead the school garden project so that students might better understand their food and where it comes from.

Mayflower is Lasley’s hometown and she also has a child attending the school.

Her interest in establishing the garden was a natural progression from her master’s-level studies in nutrition, food and consumer science at The University of Central Arkansas.

Principal Candie Watts said all grades utilize the garden and while third and fourth graders did a lot of the planting, the garden is available to all students as an outdoor classroom with several teachers connecting garden activities with regular lesson plans.

She said it’s not uncommon to find math, science and reading lessons being incorporated into garden time.

"Farm Credit proudly partners with the Arkansas Agriculture Department to support the work local schools are doing in regard to school gardens," Vice President Cecil Oursbourn of Farm Credit of Western Arkansas’ Greenbrier office, said. "School gardens are a valuable tool in helping the next generation better understand our food supply and what’s involved in growing the food we eat."

According to the release, Farm Credit serves rural communities and agriculture with reliable, consistent credit and financial services and currently has more than 5,500 borrower-stockholders and $1.2 billion in assets.

Farm Credit of Western Arkansas is a part of the nationwide Farm Credit System that has served rural America for more than 101 years.