School entries are being accepted for the sixth annual Arkansas Grown School Garden of the Year Contest sponsored by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture (ADA) and Farm Credit.

Applicants may be from any Arkansas school, grades pre-K through 12, that had a school garden open during the 2018-2019 school year, or any schools planning to start a garden in the 2019-2020 school year.

The deadline for submission is Aug. 30. Online entry forms and program requirements are available at www.agriculture.arkansas.gov/aad-programs.

All applicants, except those applying for the school garden start up category, will be required to provide photos or video documentation of garden activities and progress. Schools eligible to apply include non-traditional educational facilities such as juvenile detention centers and residential childcare institutions.

Farm Credit is generously providing funding for winners in the following award categories:

Best School Garden Start-Up Proposal - $500. Best Nutrition Education Based Garden - $500. Best Community Collaboration Garden - $500. Best Environmental Education Focused Garden - $500. Overall Winning Arkansas Grown School Garden of the Year - $1,000.

“School gardens bring agriculture, our state’s largest industry, to life for Arkansas students,” Arkansas Agriculture Secretary Wes Ward said. “We are pleased to see this program enter a sixth year of successfully helping support and start school garden initiatives in counties across Arkansas. We appreciate the sponsorship provided by Farm Credit that makes this important program possible.”

“As a farmer-owned cooperative, we are excited to continue our support of teachers and projects that engage Arkansas students in food production and agricultural sustainability. Through these partnerships, we can ensure that the valuable role of Arkansas agriculture remains top-of-mind for the next generation,” AgHeritage Farm Credit Services President and CEO Greg Cole said on behalf of the Farm Credit cooperatives of Arkansas.

With more than $3.6 billion in assets, AgHeritage Farm Credit Services, Farm Credit Midsouth and Farm Credit of Western Arkansas support rural communities and agriculture across Arkansas with reliable, consistent credit and financial services today and tomorrow.

In Arkansas, Farm Credit associations are owned by the more than 11,000 customer-owners they serve. Through the cooperative structure, customer-owners have a voice and vote in the associations’ governance.

Members also share in the cooperatives’ financial success through cooperative returns which total more than $220 million since 1997.

The ADA is dedicated to the development and implementation of policies and programs for Arkansas agriculture and forestry to keep its farmers and ranchers competitive in national and international markets while ensuring safe food, fiber, and forest products for the citizens of the state and nation.