Tractor Supply Company, the largest rural lifestyle retail store chain in the United States, has launched “Dig It,” a school garden pilot program designed for students in the kindergarten through fifth grade across New York. Tractor Supply awarded $500 to 55 schools to either start or sustain a school garden program; DeRuyter Central School and Morrisville-Eaton Central School districts are among those participating.
“We live in a world where more than three out of four Americans believe children are more likely to know where Justin Bieber is from than where their food comes from, and that shows us the opportunity we have in our communities to help children learn more about their food source,” said Tractor Supply’s Director of Store Marketing Lisa White. “Dig It gets kids outside and out of the traditional classroom setting, using their hands and minds in different ways that we hope will nurture a growing curiosity about what is on their own dinner tables, while encouraging a budding interest in how the world around them works.”
Tractor Supply partnered with the National Agriculture in the Classroom, an organization which promotes agricultural literacy, to create a curriculum centered on providing enriched, hands-on learning opportunities that reinforce responsibility and teamwork, while deepening the students’ connection to where food comes from.
Dig It’s lesson plans support what a majority of Americans believe to be important and beneficial when it comes to classroom learning. A recent opinion survey of 1,000 Americans commissioned by Tractor Supply found:
- 75% believe hands-on learning is more effective than memorization
- 97% believe hands-on learning activities help children have a more positive attitude toward learning
“There is a clear disconnect concerning children’s basic understanding of where their food comes from, so if we can get kids excited about learning, we not only help teachers connect with their students in a more meaningful way, but we also set those students up for success,” said Jessica Holmes, Store Marketing Manager at Tractor Supply and creator of the program. “Schools are the center of our communities, which is why Tractor Supply invested in Dig It, so future generations will grow up appreciating and understanding what it takes to get a tomato from the ground to the plate.”
Dig It is designed around the growing season and lasts through the end of the school year. Each participating student receives a kid-friendly garden tool set and a Master Gardener Certificate from Tractor Supply upon completion of the program curriculum, which culminates in a ceremony for family and friends at their local Tractor Supply store.
Click here to view and download a list of participating schools in New York. Thirty-three schools in Tennessee are also participating in Dig It, for a total of over seventeen thousand students across both states.