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story.lead_photo.caption The courtyard area is seen at Fairview Elementary. Photo by Kelsi Brinkmeyer / Texarkana Gazette.

TEXARKANA, Ark. — The courtyard at Fairview Elementary has always had potential, but never got the attention or funding necessary to realize it.

"Ever since I've been at this elementary school, I have looked at our courtyard and thought, 'that could use some help,' said teacher Sandra Newton. "But there just hasn't been any funding."

That will change soon.

Fairview Elementary has been awarded a $500 grant through the 2020 Arkansas Grown School Garden Contest, which they will use to improve the garden in their courtyard.

Fairview won the contest category of "Best Start-up Garden Proposal," after submitting photos of their garden and a plan for improving it.

The Arkansas Grown School Garden of the Year Contest was initiated by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture and the Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas in 2014. The program provides the opportunity to promote the importance of involving young people in the process of fresh food production and cultivation.

Farm Credit provides the funding for program award recipients.

The fountain is seen in the courtyard area at Fairview Elementary.
Photo by Kelsi Brinkmeyer/Texarkana Gazette.

Newton submitted the plan after always having an urge to improve the garden in the school's courtyard area.

"So the teachers have kind of donated things here and there to help with the way that it looks right now, but getting awarded that money, we'll be able make a big difference."

She said she couldn't be more excited about providing an aesthetically-pleasing courtyard for her students to enjoy.

"I was told not to tell anybody until they did their press release, and that was very difficult because I was so excited," she said. "I am thrilled to be able to do this and to be able to work with the kids with something that I love."

The courtyard has picnic tables outside, and Fairview has held award activities and cookouts there in the past. Newton said the area has potential for great improvement, and she wants to, "dress it up."

Students will be helping Newton and the staff plant vegetables and flowers for the garden. She also hopes to use these funds to get their fountain up and running again.

"The kids walk by this courtyard every day," she said. "It's in the center of the school, so to be able to look out those windows and see something that they have a hand in growing or making more of a beautiful space just really excites me."

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