Harkins, Merski: Grant will bring urban agriculture to the classroom

ERIE, Oct. 2 – Erie students will soon get hands-on experience with urban agriculture thanks to a $825 microgrant that will fund supplies and equipment for 14 school gardens, according to state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie.

The funding – part of the first round of Pennsylvania Farm Bill grants – will allow the Erie City School District to purchase soil, seed trays and hydro domes to create starter plants for the gardens.

“Some of the best lessons are those that allow kids to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty,” Harkins said. “For city kids, planting seeds, watching them sprout and harvesting food they’ve grown themselves teaches about the life cycle in a way no book can. It also shows that you don’t need a lot of land to create a peaceful, productive green space.”

Merski agreed, noting, “A well-rounded education isn’t just about teaching kids math and reading – it’s about allowing them to cultivate life-sustaining skills to help address food insecurity and empower whole communities. Those are skills they will carry with them their whole lives.”

The grant is part of a package of funding to benefit 28 projects in various counties statewide and comes from the Urban Agriculture Infrastructure Grant Program, part of the state’s first-ever Pennsylvania Farm Bill.