Carolyn Lewis Elementary was recently named as the 2018 Best Community Collaboration School Garden by the Arkansas Agriculture Department and Farm Credit of Arkansas.

The duo made the announcement Oct. 5.

The Conway school is the only one in the county to be selected for any of the honors during the 2018 Arkansas Grown School Garden of the Year contest.

“I believe we were selected due to the dedicated work of teachers, students, and families who have volunteers hours of time making our garden what it is today,” principal Stacy DeFoor said.

For the selection, he said, Carolyn Lewis will receive $500, which will be used to further enhance the garden by “providing additional resources for instruction to our students as well as supplies to keep our garden looking beautiful.”

DeFoor said students have been enjoying the garden this year, and Kerry Ryffel, the school’s FoodCorp ambassador has been conducting classes with students to promote healthy eating and how to maintain our garden.

“The school garden and the Garden Café Classroom at Carolyn Lewis Elementary are perfect examples of providing innovative educational opportunities and cultivating community relationships, two of our district’s core values,” communication specialist Heather Kendrick said. “The garden champions at this school seek every single avenue, including this contest, to maximize ways for their students to learn healthy eating and lifestyle habits. They are quite literally planting a foundation for these students to grow them into better adults.”

Gov. Asa Hutchinson will recognize winning schools during a ceremony Oct. 10 at the state

“School gardens bring agriculture, our state’s largest industry, to life for Arkansas students,” Arkansas Agriculture Secretary Wes Ward, said in a news release. “Congratulations to the 2018 Arkansas Grown School Garden of the Year awardees. We are honored to continue this program another year and support school garden initiatives across Arkansas. We appreciate the sponsorship provided by Farm Credit that makes this important program possible.” The contest was started in 2014 to promote the importance of involving young people in the fresh-food production process and cultivation, the release states.

“As a farmer-owned cooperative, we believe it’s important to support local food system initiatives such as the Arkansas Grown School Garden Program,” James McJunkins, Farm Credit Midsouth president and chief executive officer, said. “Local food projects like this are a great way to educate the next generation and the public about food production and agriculture.”