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Learning from the ground up
Ag News - State Ag News
Tuesday, 19 February 2013 20:02

Amy Bickel
The Hutchinson News

In coming weeks at the 56th Avenue CAS farm, the Thomadora and Lincoln Elementary 4-H clubs will begin planting their 7,200-square-foot plots for potatoes. Later this spring, early Head Start staff will sow pumpkin seeds. 

The Nickerson school district also has a plot and there are seven 900-square-foot spaces for anyone who wants to rent the space.

About 60,000 square feet of the more than 200,000 square feet at the Community Agricultural Site farm is being used for gardening because of watering limitations, said Reno County Master Gardener David Buckley. Someday, the group would like to drill another well to maximize the space.

"Maybe it is not a stretch to call it production agriculture," said CAS President Allan Engle. "It teaches them that food comes from places other than the grocery store and that someone has to grow it, that it takes a lot of hard work."

Growing vegetables, however, is just one aspect of CAS, which Reno County Health Educator Katie Ross calls a complex program.

The program also helps educate young people and adults about nutrition, along with where their food comes from, she said. Another education component is having students participate in research through Kansas State University at the site. For the past few years, students have tracked and measured the progress of new varieties of vegetables for K-State's research.

Students sold their bounty, giving them a lesson in entrepreneurship, too.

Meanwhile, Ross manages CAS' Veggie Bucks sector. In lieu of rent, the 4-H clubs and the school districts donate 20 percent of their crop/sales to the Veggie Bucks program, Ross said. Funds from vegetable sales then can be used to purchase fruits and vegetables for organizations in need and individuals who qualify.

This year, CAS will have a farmers market on Saturdays where the public can come and purchase items, Ross said.

CAS also is using the area as a learning center, with upcoming Saturday classes on power tilling, landscaping and managing water resources, Buckley said.

Moreover, for the kids, it's a lesson in agriculture, Engle said.

"It teaches some of those kids, like my son, who are not that close to the farm. It gives them some perspective."



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