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Sheep Grazin’ at Grant Park Cooperative Preschool

Sheep “attend” school - Photo by Rebecca Wallace

Sheep “attend” school – Photo by Rebecca Wallace

By Rebecca Wallace
Cats, ladybugs, swans, the Mud Monster, and now sheep? Yes, sheep. Ellie Martin, coordinator for the volunteer group, Atlanta Farm-to-School, has been introducing farm-to-preschool concepts at the Grant Park Cooperative Preschool (GPCP) where she is on staff. Ellie is the school’s interim Naturalist, a new position created by GPCP in 2011 and first filled by Susan Edwards who is currently on maternity leave. “The Naturalist works closely with the classroom educators to facilitate explorations of our natural surroundings and use the environment as a learning lab,” said Gabriela Garcia, GPCP Executive Director.
Ellie is working with the children to carry on the renovations of the school garden started by Susan last school year. When the question of how to get rid of overgrowth came up, Ellie looked no further than Ewe-niversally Green, a company that offers “sheep for hire” for natural land management. GPCP hired the company in March and sheep are expected somewhere between March 26 and March 30.
Paid for by donations from GPCP families, a $600 fee covered the rental of a team of sheep for four days, a portable, in-ground fence to keep them contained to specific areas, and ample opportunities for the children to meet the sheep. Brian Cash, the sheep owner, also spent time with the children, speaking with them about environmental practices for clearing invasive plants.
“We believe that this will help instill in the children a deep respect for the earth, the animals and the interdependence of all living things,” said Ellie. Ellie also brought her own chickens to the opposite side of the yard during the four days to eat and turn up the invasive monkey grass.
With many families that are involved with the farm-to-school movement, GPCP is well on its way to being a model farm-to-preschool organization. In addition to the consistent garden education and frequent field trips to the park and zoo by classes from both the Grant Park and Cabbagetown campuses, the school will experiment with a warm meal program in the fall in which students help to cook locally purchased produce and share a warm meal for lunch.
“Starting with our littlest chickens is the most organic way to truly incorporate a farm-to-school way of thinking in our community,” said Leslie Grant, alumni representative on the GPCP’s board of directors and founding member of Atlanta Farm-to-School. “What we are doing here is fun, educational and healthy.”
For more information about the Grant Park Cooperative Preschool, please call 404-521-0440 or visit You can also “Like” and follow them at Find information on Ewe-niversally Green at

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