Students at S. William Abel Community School were able to put the new greenhouse at the Colusa County Office of Education Village to good use this year, with the fruits of their labor getting sold to the community on Saturday.
Students sold flowers, herbs, and vegetable plants to home gardeners, which was the first project since the Office of Education got funding to implement agricultural education in 2018.
“This is part of a USDA grant called Farm to School,” said Craig Richards, project coordinator. “What we’re trying to do is connect kids to agriculture. We plan to grow food that can be included in school meals and to hold plant sales.”
The Colusa County Office of Education received a $45,000 planning grant for the program from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service to develop the program.
In addition to the large greenhouse, where the plants for Saturday’s sale were grown from seeds, students are building several raised flowerbeds and will develop several acres of land behind the Education Village for outdoor growing.
“We hope to reach out to all the schools, but the Community School meets here so we started with them,” Richards said.
Skylar Wynant and Gianni Daniels, both sophomores, were part of the group who grew the vegetables and helped with Saturday’s sale. Both have had previous experience with home gardens and said the agriculture education at the Community School has been rewarding.
“A total of about 14 (students) worked on the project,” Daniels said.
Students plan to grow native grasses and shrubs, in addition to flowers and vegetables.
“We are also growing oak trees,” Wynant said. “We planted a bunch of acorns last winter, and they are just now starting to all come up.”
In their first venture, students ran quickly through three varieties of tomatoes, two varieties of eggplant, four varieties of peppers, sweet Italian basil, cucumbers, marigolds, and zinnias.
Money raised from the plants will go back into the program, Richards said.
The Office of Education started the agriculture education program with a number of very involved stakeholders, including the Colusa County Resource Conservation District.
“It is so important to have a program like this in Colusa County,” said Liz Harper, RCD executive director, who also purchased a variety of plants. “We want to keep it going.” ■