FFA chapter receives Master Gardeners Grant

Barbara Hootman

Owen High’s Future Farmers of America received a $800 Master Gardeners Grant in the fall. The organization is using it to build three raised beds for growing vegetables, herbs and flowers. The Master Gardeners are part of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service.

Tim Pasour, agriculture teacher and sponsor of the FFA at Owen High, said the project is a good example of hands-on learning for the students.

“The raised beds are located outside the food lab on the Owen High campus, and are under construction,” he said. “The cold weather stopped construction, but we will start again as soon as the weather gets warmer. Students are involved in the construction of the beds, which are made out of red cedar which was donated. The horticulture and science classes will plant and maintain the beds. FFA plans to use the flowers in the food lab and to donate any excess to the poor in the community.”

Sierra Gerringer, vice president of the Owen High FFA chapter, is excited about the project.

“This project provides great hands-on experience for many students both in the classroom and outside of it,” she said in an e-mail. “The agriculture mechanics class is helping design and implement the raised beds. The horticulture class will decide what soil to use and which types of plants will thrive in the area and (will) help maintain the garden.

“The foods class will have a say in what plants they want for cooking. The interior design class has a landscaping segment, and they will help design the beds. The biology classes along with some of the horticulture classes can visit the beds and learn about plant nutrition and plant anatomy.”

Gerringer sees the raised bed project as one that will interest not only Owen High School students, but elementary students in the area also.

“With our greenhouse program, which is completely student-run, we have invited elementary school classes to the school and have had students guide the elementary students through different activities which teaches them about plants and other aspects of agriculture,” she said in an e-mail. “I see the same learning and teaching experiences expanded to include the raised bed project.”

Emily Beaver, president of the Owen High FFA chapter, said she has seen the grant from its start to the project underway now.

“Our FFA chapter as a whole will continue the maintenance of the beds throughout the year,” she said via email. “Hands-on experience is the basis of our FFA and agriculture program. It offers students a chance to get out of the classroom and learn valuable life skills. The Master Gardeners Grant embodies the values of life skills, providing students with hands-on experience that will further their learning beyond the classroom.”

Pasour expects a lot of interest to come from the FFA chapter members at the school.

“We have approximately 150 member in FFA, and it gives these students valuable hands-on experience inside and outside the classroom,” he said.

Pasour said the original proposal was developed by a former Owen High School student, Lilian L. Janes, who is now a college student.

“Our goal is to have the Master Gardeners Grant Project finished and working by May,” Pasour said.

Volunteers are always needed to help with high school projects. Contact Pasour at Owen High School at 686-3852.