CHAT students get lesson in agroponics

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 8, 2006

The Selma Times-Journal

Harvesting collard and mustard greens on a crisp fall morning is farmer’s work to many. But for a group of Selma Middle CHAT Academy students, it’s an in-class assignment.

This school year CHAT began offering agroponics, an elective science course where students have a chance to study, observe and document different findings about types of plants, said course instructor Duane Evans.

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Three months ago – during the second week of the school year -Evans and his students planted six different vegetable gardens of collard greens, sweet potatoes, cabbage, green peppers, broccoli, squash, turnip greens and mustard greens right on school grounds. Evans said seeds were used to plant the turnips, mustards and squash while the remaining vegetables were planted using three-inch transplants.

“Most of it is getting ready to come up out,” Evans said, adding the harvest is just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Students spent Thursday morning removing dead leaves from the gardens and harvesting and washing bundles of collard and mustard greens before placing them in large black trash bags.

“I’ve learned a lot,” said 13-year-old Sonja Green, a CHAT eighth grader. “I’ve learned how to pick the greens and grow the cabbage and plant the seeds.”

“I’ve learned it takes patience for things to grow,” added 14-year-old Myeshia Woods, a CHAT seventh grader. “You have to work for some of the things you need.”

Evans believes agroponics’ success is due to students receiving a hands-on education in an outdoor classroom environment, which he says is an invaluable experience.

“(The students) almost love anything outside the classroom,” Evans said. It helps them remember a whole lot as opposed to reading it in a book. They can actually see what they’re learning. They can see actual results.”

And they can eat what they’re learning too.

“We’re going to harvest this up for the cafeteria and they cook it for us,” Myeshia said.

Evans said following the vegetable garden project, agroponics will begin a new chapter focused on beautifying the CHAT campus with various types of shrubs and plants. Other future plans include spring gardens, wildflower meadows, theme gardens, butterfly gardens and a greenhouse, Evans said.