Logo for SSARE and photos of Ashley Smith, Michelle Howell, Stacy Vincent and Nicole Breazeale

Black Soil, Need More Acres farm, and CLD faculty receive a two-year SSARE grant to partner with Kentucky farmers in developing a middle school storytelling curriculum focused on equity & inclusion in the food system

The project is the brainchild of Ashley Smith, bringing together the farmer networks and interviewing/storytelling capacities of Black Soil (Smith) and Need More Acres Farm (Michelle Howell) with the technical expertise of Agricultural Education (Stacy Vincent) and Community Development Extension faculty (Nicole Breazeale) at UK.

The group will develop an interactive curriculum and provide professional development to equip middle school agriculture educators and 4-H Agents at KSU and UK to teach about diversity and inclusion in the food system. Employing a storytelling pedagogy, they will develop five lessons built around digital stories that center black Kentucky farmers. Youth ages 11-14 are the target audience for this curriculum. As they move through the lessons and collaborate on a social action project, students gain knowledge about inequities in the food system, but also learn to appreciate the value of diversity while taking steps to build a more inclusive and sustainable system. The key to successful implementation of the curriculum are three half-day trainings for middle-school educators. Using popular education methodologies, these trainings will introduce the material, but also help teachers facilitate difficult conversations in and out of the classroom.  The project also seeks to strengthen relationships between youth, teachers, and farmers around the state through virtual networking.