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School farm proposal plows ahead

Staff writer

If the Hillsboro city council on March 3 approves a plan for a “farm to school” initiative at the elementary school, Principal Evan Yoder said the school could possibly get its first chickens this spring.

“We might be able to bring in a few chickens, but it’s a crazy-busy end of the year,” Yoder said. “Next fall is a more logical time. We don’t want to bring in animals without the proper lighting and housing and an attractive era we can proud of and will be safe for kids.”

The Hillsboro Planning Commission approved the plan 6-0 last week. The city council will make the final decision as to whether to grant a conditional-use permit.

The model for the initiative is the Walton Rural Life Center in Walton, Yoder said. A group of educators and administrators visited the school farm at Walton, and Yoder said he came away convinced of the benefits of students connecting with animals and agriculture-based learning.

“Especially for students who struggle at school, those kids need to be engaged and they love to be outside with animals,” said Yoder, who envisions a few animals on the school grounds, with students doing 15 minutes of chores to care for the animals. Animals would also give birth, and students would witness and participate in the rearing process. Yoder also believes a philanthropic effort will progress, with extra eggs given away to needy families.

City Administrator Larry Paine said 35 people attended the Thursday planning commission meeting, expressing either opposition or support. It was the second meeting on the issue, with planning commissioners tabling the issue Dec. 11.

“So all in all, we’ve had about four hours of public comment and planning commission discussion on this,” Paine said.

Last modified Feb. 4, 2015

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