LakelandChristianSchool Created with Sketch.

LCS RISE Students Win 1st Place in the Slingshot Polk Entrepreneurship Competition

Congratulations to LCS RISE Institute students Nicole Rivera (7th grade), Mya Rivera (6th grade) and Yuexin Qin (6th grade) on winning first place in the Slingshot Polk entrepreneurship competition.

Each year, the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce sponsors the competition for students in 6th grade through age 25. Middle school, high school, and college projects are judged together. One hundred teams applied for the competition. The field was narrowed to five finalists who presented on Monday night to a panel of judges that included business and community leaders.   The LCS team won first place. Florida Southern College placed second and Florida Polytechnic University placed third.   The LCS girls presented “The Bucket Farm Project” – an idea that would introduce kids to healthy food options and address the problems of obesity and lack of access to fresh vegetables in our community.   They were awarded $1,500 to work on the project.  

Here is an Executive Summary written by RISE Director Jennifer Canady: “Do you love food? What are your priorities?  Our priority is to empower kids to make better food choices for themselves. We think that knowledge is power!  When kids have positive experiences with growing and tasting fresh vegetables, they’re more willing to make them a big part of their diet. This will have a long-term impact on obesity, which leads to diabetes–two of the most damaging lifestyle-based issues in Polk County.

We want to create a new way for students who might not otherwise have an opportunity to learn about how healthy food grows. We have observed at our school’s Urban Farm that when students are able to participate in planting and see vegetables growing, they’re more willing to actually try them.  Unfortunately, Florida’s weather and soil can make it tough to plant a productive garden.  We have determined that when we get the soil, water, and fertilizer conditions right, our portable farms flourish.  We build and sell bucket gardens, and can generate enough profit from the sale of one garden to be able to donate a bucket farm to a partner school.  The bucket farms will include fruits and vegetables that are good for that season.

Should health be your main priority? Do you want it be? Through “The Bucket Farm Project”, kids will learn healthy diets and how to grow vegetables. Why are we doing this you may ask? Well, we chose to do our project because we wanted to solve or at least minimize obesity.  Diet and exercise are an important part of life not just in Polk County but in the U.S.  This problem is normally started at a young age by parents who don’t introduce healthy options to their kids from the start.  We understand that there are a lot of reasons why this happens. Many families in Polk live in USDA food deserts, which means they live more than a mile away from a grocery store and often don’t have transportation.  Some families are not fortunate enough to have access to fresh produce, so we want to help with our bucket farms.

We build self-watering portable farms out of recycled food-grade buckets and have developed a “Buy one–Give one” program.  For every portable farm that is purchased, one will be donated. Each farm holds approximately four vegetable or herb plants and contains a reservoir that holds about a gallon of water.  In hot weather, the plants need this extra water source, and it’s part of what makes our farms thrive.  We will provide the portable farm, seedlings, signage, and healthy recipes.

This experience will introduce kids to a whole new view of different foods. We will send bucket farms with seeds and recipes that the students will learn from. This program could be integrated into the school day in a number of different ways–our suggestion is through PE.  The Florida state PE standards include nutrition and wellness standards, and the portable farm will help fulfill those requirements.

The team that will make this happen is a trio of middle schoolers leading a team of volunteers that includes middle school, high school, and adults.  We are skilled in making things grow through our own experiences with our school’s Urban Farm. We are partnering with businesses who will donate food-grade buckets and a seed company that is donating heirloom vegetable seeds. The cost of materials to build one bucket farm is approximately $10.  We will sell our farms for $20, which will allow one to be donated for each purchased.

In conclusion, we believe our project will potentially help introduce a new world of healthy options for kids. Our goal is to address the problem of obesity and improper diet by getting portable bucket farms into schools.  If kids grow their own vegetables, they might be more excited to try them. Even parents and teachers can learn!  Please help us begin to transform the health of Polk County through the Bucket Farm Project.


Jennifer Canady, M.A.,  RISE Institute Director” For more about Slingshot Polk, go here:  http://www.slingshotpolk.com/