A greenhouse going up on the grounds of Tallapoosa Primary School is one of a few agricultural education projects the school has installed over the last couple of years for use in the school’s STEM program.
Two years ago, the school added raised vegetable and herb beds on the grounds, the produce from which has made it on to the students’ lunch plates as well as those of staff, said Principal Jentsie Johns.
This year, with the help of many volunteers, the greenhouse scavenged from Haralson County High School is being reconstructed on the grounds, she said.
“Our goal is by Mar. 1 we will actually have seeds started,” Johns said.
The school is planning a plant sale for May, she said. Then, in the fall chickens will take up residence in a coop on the property. This mini-farm will be cared for by students and faculty to teach students a wide variety of skills as well as where their food actually originates.
Johnny Smith, a grandfather of students at the school and husband of one of the staff, thinks its a good idea.
“The kids need to know how to grow stuff,” Smith said. “Everybody thinks you just go to the grocery store and buy it. They don’t realize where it comes from.”
Teachers and volunteers moved the old greenhouse from the high school after the high school built a new one, Johns said. The school spent about $500, money raised through selling snacks at the school, for supplies to complete the greenhouse, she said. Once it is finished the students will divide the responsibilities for the new crops — for instance, kindergarten students will do the planting, first graders will water the plants and second graders will hold a plant sale, she said. The project ties into the school system’s career and technical education goals, Johns said.
“We’re really starting to instill a good work ethic with them,” Johns said. “trying to instill a sense of responsibility, perseverance, things like that.”
Through selling the flowers and produce, students will learn the economics of agriculture as well as soft skills such as introducing themselves to strangers, shaking hands, Johns said. The experience may introduce students to a career path they enjoy, she said.
The vegetable and herb garden has already taught some students about nutrition; because they had a hand in growing the foods, they tried foods they thought they didn’t like, and in some cases found they were pretty good, said April Roberts, the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) teacher at the school.
The agricultural education is a good fit for the school, Roberts added.
“We’re immersed in an agricultural community.” she said. “We have cattle farmers, chicken farmers; we have a big farm down the road. That’s a huge part of Georgia and our area.”
The students will learn so much through the experience of growing food — the life cycle of plants and soon chickens, commerce, science, math and to work cooperatively, Roberts said.
Johns agreed. Reading and math are important, but so are the other skills these types of projects can teach students, she said.
“We really want them to become well-rounded individuals,” Johns said.