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FFA plants fruit and vegetable garden

Andrea Williamson

Hartselle Enquirer

For the second year in a row, the lot across from Hartselle Junior High School has been transformed into a fruit and vegetable garden thanks to the students of FFA.

The garden is full of various plants, such as squash, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, okra, corn, peas, green beans, lima beans, watermelons and cantaloupes. According to FFA sponsor and agriscience teacher Kyle Woodard, fruits and vegetables are usually picked by the FFA students, teachers and local churches, but the garden is open to anyone in the community.

While the crop that is produced is certainly a benefit of the garden, Woodard had an entirely different purpose for starting the project.

“This is mainly for the kids and their experience,” Woodard said. “We want them to understand that there is a farmer behind everything that is produced and that products are not just made in factories.”

Woodard also stated that the garden provides the students with a chance to develop character and life skills.

“They learn responsibility and how to take care of something,” Woodard said. “They also learn survival skills and how to feed their families.”

In addition to the learning opportunity it supplies, Woodard said that the garden is an advancement opportunity for FFA members. In order to achieve their five degrees of membership, the students are required to complete a supervised agricultural experience. This requirement is often difficult for students who live in town to complete because they do not have access to a garden.

While there are many benefits for the students, the garden certainly comes at a cost. Woodard said that the garden requires a minimum of two hours of work per week, assuming that he has enough students to help. Woodard expressed that he has had dedicated students to work in the garden this summer.

I’ve had good help this year,” Woodard said. “It certainly says something about kids who are willing to work and sweat in a garden during the summer.”

However, while some might consider it tedious to labor under the hot sun, the students seemed to view the garden as an enjoyable pastime rather than work. For eighth-grader Clay Burns, the garden is simply a hobby.

“It isn’t work for me,” Burns said. “It’s just fun to me. We’ve had a garden at home since I was little, so I’ve grown up in it.”

Spencer Bell, also an eighth grade student at HJHS, echoed Burn’s thoughts.

“I really enjoy it,” Bell said. “This is what I do in my free time.”

According to Woodard, the crop has not been as bountiful as the previous year. However, he attributed the smaller harvest to the fact that the soil is depleted.

‘This is all just part of the experience for the students,” Woodard said. “They are having to spread fertilizer, and they are learning about the purpose of replenishing the soil.”