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GOAL Launches Student Garden Initiative in Collaboration with Environmental Management Incorporated

GOAL Digital Academy is excited to announce the launch of its new student garden project, a collaborative effort aimed at promoting independence and sustenance in food production among students. The idea for the garden originated from a seed planted by two staff members, Dee McGrew and Nathan Leasure, which blossomed into a plan through collaborative brainstorming sessions.

The Vision Behind the Garden

The primary objective of the garden is to provide students with hands-on learning experiences in food production, emphasizing the importance of independence and sustainability. The garden also aims to demonstrate that even those with limited space can successfully grow organic produce. If the project garners sufficient interest and success, plans are in place to expand the garden space for additional summer enrichment opportunities next year.

Community Partnerships and Contributions

Environmental Management Incorporated (EMI), a leader in water conservation projects throughout central Ohio, has played a crucial role in bringing this project to life. Jerrad, the irrigation sales manager at EMI and an adjunct instructor at Columbus State, has been instrumental in this initiative. EMI's contributions include donating five yards of topsoil and offering to speak with interested students about apprenticeship opportunities within their company. These opportunities come with 100% tuition assistance for students pursuing relevant degrees or specialty certifications.

Josh Chalfant, the Associate Director of Training and Development at EMI, has also been actively involved. Josh and his team travel to schools and career centers across Ohio, engaging students and showcasing career opportunities in the landscape industry. They have a history of coaching and judging students in landscape competitions, most recently at the National Landscape Competition in Provo, Utah.

What GOAL Planted

The initial planting phase included a variety of vegetables:

• Tomatoes

• Hot peppers and bell peppers

• Yellow squash

• Cucumbers

• Beets

• Lettuce

• Green beans

• Peas

In response to student interest, plans are in place to teach students how to plant a winter garden featuring garlic, cabbage, and beets. In addition to the topsoil donation, EMI provided yard screen and soil stakes to support the garden's infrastructure. The company's involvement extends beyond material contributions, as they are committed to engaging with students through educational and career development opportunities.

EMI is a prominent company specializing in water conservation projects across central Ohio. Their projects include Easton Town Center, the splash fountains at downtown Columbus Commons, and the turf installation and maintenance for the Columbus Crew at Field. EMI is also actively involved in community service, donating time and resources to Hope Hollow, a nonprofit respite care facility for individuals with terminal cancer.

GOAL Digital Academy is dedicated to providing innovative and practical learning experiences for students. The student garden project is a testament to our commitment to fostering independence, sustainability, and career readiness among our students by partnering with local community organizations. For further details about the student garden project or to learn more about partnership opportunities, please contact:

Nathan Leasure

Educational Advocate

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