State of the art. That about sums up the new greenhouse at Crum PreK-8. If you are in or near Crum, you should definitely check this thing out.

It is an all glass greenhouse. Its 40 feet long and 18 feet wide complete with every bell and whistle you could possibly imagine. As the county’s STEM Agriculture Coach, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the students in this first class agriculture facility.

The greenhouse is filled with stainless steel tables for growing potted plants and we are working on putting in some deep beds for plants with deeper root systems. We could grow just about anything in this greenhouse and can do so regardless of the season or weather.

The greenhouse has been under construction thus far in the school year and is very close to being complete.

We will operate this facility as a business. I would especially like to teach the students about having an operating budget, tracking expenses and making sure we have a profitable bottom line.

I can see the students producing potted flowers and starter plants for market, but primarily we want to grow food.

Mrs. Vicky Ramey is spearheading the operation as the school’s health and agriculture teacher. She and I are in agreement that the students should know how to feed themselves.

Great things are happening at other Wayne County Schools as well. At Fort Gay PreK-8 chickens grace the landscape. Chickens are also on their way to Wayne Middle School and both of these schools are planning to add gardens to the property.

Wayne High School has completed several awesome projects over the past few years, some of the most recent include an aquaponics greenhouse and grafting apples.

Tolsia High School’s ag program has a new big man on campus- a black angus steer to compliment the other ag operations there.

Spring Valley is constructing a new greenhouse and has been producing shiitake mushrooms for sale throughout the fall.

I would also like to commend Prichard Elementary. They have had chickens and raised successful gardens for several years.

These are just some of the highlights happening in Wayne County. If you know of other exciting farming or gardening projects in the schools, submit your photos to the Wayne County News.

So what does all this have to do with STEM curriculum? Everything.

We are doing hands on projects to better understand biology, ecology, chemistry, and physics. We are using technology, tools and equipment. We will use microscopes to examine our compost and soil structure. We are designing facilities, and planning layout of gardens using calculations of projected plant height and sun patterns. We are learning economics, weather, temperature, plant growth cycles and taking measurements all along the way.

Many people like to add the A to the mix, making it STEAM with the A standing arguably for Arts or Agriculture. I say it stands for both. We are using agriculture to craft beautiful landscapes and edible works of art. Talk about food for thought!

Park Ferguson is an agriculture advocate in Wayne County and also serves on the Wayne County Economic Development Authority.

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