Seedtime and harvestPublished 3:23pm Thursday, May 29, 2014
HJHS agriscience classes launch garden as class project
Agriscience students at Hartselle Junior High School are gaining new respect for commercial vegetable producers as first time growers of their own garden.
In a vacant, school-owned lot on Booth Street, students devote a part of each class period gaining information and learning the skills required to grow a productive vegetable garden.
The project was initiated by agriscience teacher Kyle Woodard in early spring with soil testing, followed by seedbed preparation on the quarter-acre plot.
“We used a tractor and disc to break up the ground, laid out the rows and planted the seed by hand, as well as with the use of mechanical devices,” Woodard said. “In class, students were taught the benefits of a garden space with rich soil, heavy exposure to the sun, the need to soil test and tractor and farm safety.”
On a sunny day last week, the plants were out of the ground in good stands and growing well. Several varieties of corn stood knee high, caged tomatoes were blooming and watermelons and cantaloupes were peeping out of the ground.
Students were busy working in the garden with a rotary tiller and hand tools.
“Home gardening is beneficial to all of us,” Woodard pointed out. “I wanted the 140 kids I teach to have a general idea of what is involved in growing vegetables for their own dinner table. We never know when we might face a time when there are no grocery stores or we can’t afford to buy the food we need.”
“This garden has created a lot of excitement in the classroom,” he added. “Not a day goes by when some of the kids don’t ask if they can go work in the garden.”
Woodard said all of his students have had a hand in the project and have learned a lot.
“I’ll continue to work the garden while the students are on summer break” Woodard said. “Some of them have volunteered to come back and help when it needs working and harvesting.”
“We’re also interested in locating families in need in our area with whom we can share the vegetables when they are ready to harvest,” he added. “Our plan is to continue the project in the future and possibly market some of the vegetables at the Farmer’s Market in Decatur as a fundraiser for our department.”