“... Now three years ago we started our outdoor classroom area and it was just — it was probably about a 3.5, 4-acre area. It was all grown up and everything and we started building stuff and coming up with projects, so we wrote grants to do projects in certain areas,” he said. “... It’s taken what the kids learn about maybe agriculture and being self-sustained as far as being able to grow your own garden and stuff like that and let the kids kind of take ownership of the outdoor classroom, which we do. This’ll be the first time we’ve tried growing some actual produce or whatever we’re going to, herbs or whatever. ... Then [Lead Special Education Teacher Jason] Rood kind of pushed through on the idea of the farmer’s market that would get kids involved and maybe a couple of our clubs like FFA and things like that.”
The market will begin tentatively May 10 and run each Saturday morning through the summer. Setting up in the parking area near the softball field, farmers will be allowed to set up at 6:30 a.m. Gates will open to the public at 7 a.m. There is no fee for farmers or the public.
Partnering with Redfield Farms, the school will hold an informational session for interested farmers Tuesday, April 15, at 6:30 p.m. in the auditorium.
“... What we’re really looking for is farmers, whether they be horticulturists or just home farmers, within a 60-mile radius and they have to grow their produce at home to come. We’ve invited anybody to come to the information session,” Rood said. “... We’re trying to throw an additional education component in it involving some of the students. Not only are some students in groups going to be able to grow and sell things at the market, but we also want some groups from Mr. Powell’s environmental science class to go out and visit the farms, take pictures, get some information on how the farmers are growing and harvesting on their crops and maybe create a presentation at the farmers market for that stand.”
In addition to gardening, the outdoor classroom area houses an apiary, established from a Bartow Education Foundation grant.
“I had read an article about bees and how they’re in danger right now. Their populations have dwindled throughout the world, and just reading that and thinking about how we can incorporate that. And beekeeping, it’s a great educational program, really,” Rood said. “You’ve got agriculture components in terms of ... pollination. You’ve got biology. You’ve got plant science, animal science. So doing all that together, there’s just a lot of things that you can do and then at the same time the honey.”
“It’s going to take some help from the community. Getting people involved — just want to put the word out there, because they’ll have to take ownership as well because they’re going to be bringing their produce if they want to do that,” Powell added. “But our kids, this is something that will continue on to next year because we may not have the honey to sell at the farmers market this year, but hopefully, if we get our big colonies established well, we’ll have then the honey at the market next year and the kids will be involved in that, heavily.”
Adairsville High also is vying for grant monies through Seeds of Change in a vote-driven process.
“From now through April 21, visitors will have an opportunity to vote once per day for the organization they feel most deserves a grant based on the organization’s demonstration of how the grant would help it to achieve its after which the grant recipients will be announced on or about May 5,” according to a Seeds of Change press release.
To vote for Adairsville High go to Facebook.com/seedsofchange and at www.seedsofchangegrant.com. If the school wins one of two $20,000 or one of 15 $10,000 grants, Powell said the money would go toward construction of a pavillion for the farmer’s market.
The benefits of the market to both the community and students are not lost on Rood and Powell.
“I think that the farm to table movement has really gotten footing, finally in north Georgia and Georgia as a whole and it benefits everybody. It benefits, obviously, the farmers but it also benefits the community where they are getting fresh local, sometimes organically grown produce. It’s only a win-win situation for everybody, really,” Rood said.
“Some of the kids that come from farming families know a lot about farming and the ones that are involved in the FFA and the agriculture and things like that,” Powell said. “But we’re trying to get also those kids that have never even grown a garden or a tomato plant or anything like that to get involved. Hopefully they’ll take some ownership or take what they’ve learned here, and ... I try to tell them one day you might need to feed your family from your garden.”
For more information on the AHS farmer’s market, email email@example.com or call the school at 770-606-5841.