ROCHESTER, N.Y. — High school horticulture class visited First Market Farm on November 5, 2019 on a field trip to learn about the impact of community gardens and sustainable farming practices. The horticulture class is the result of collaboration between Cornell Cooperative Extension of Monroe County and Bishop Kearney High School.
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Monroe County and Bishop Kearney High School partner to offer a Hands-on Horticulture Class to 12 high school students each fall and spring. As part of the class, students go on ten field trips a semester. Field trips include visits to local commercial greenhouses, fruit orchards, agriculture businesses, nature centers, and community organizations, with each trip exposing students to different careers in horticulture.
First Market Farm is an urban farmstead project located in downtown Rochester, NY containing over 4500 square feet of garden space and created by local nonprofit organization, Taproot Collective. Taproot Collective has the mission to “design and build holistic systems for healthy local food, dignified housing, and educational opportunities with youth and families” (taprootcollective.org).
During the field trip, students learned about the history of First Market Farm and Taproot Collective, toured the greenhouse and garden space, and discussed regenerative garden practices. Students were able to see the farm’s rainwater irrigation system, mushroom logs, and honey bee hives, and Hugelkultur raised garden beds.
Some students learned new garden practices that they hope to use themselves in the future. When asked about one thing they learned on the field trip, Anna, a student in the class, said, “Hugelkultur, the layering of dead plant material deep in the ground below your garden. It allows the plants to feed off of the nutrients from that compost for years without having to replace it. I told my mom about it and we want to try it at home next summer.”
In addition to the tour, students participated in a beautification project, planting mums and daffodils around the property, and cleaning up trash. Some students were surprised by being able to plant both ornamentals together. “I did not know we could do that because I would think the mums would prevent the bulbs from growing and cover them up,” Natalia, a student in the class, said. “But now it makes sense that the mums die back and then the bulbs take their place.”
Enthusiasm was felt by all on the field trip. “We are so excited when groups like Bishop Kearney come to visit us and work,” Taproot Collective Board Member and Farm Manger, Stephanie Benway, said. We rely heavily on the generosity and effort of our entire community. When we can combine educational opportunities and hands-on experiences for youth, we all benefit.”
In addition to field trips, students also get to grow their own plants and maintain a greenhouse located on Bishop Kearney school grounds as part of the class. “I love seeing the kids that gravitate to the sense of responsibility for taking care of the plants. Far too often, I see kids that are passive learners, I love seeing students that become engaged and involved and change because of [the class]”, Bishop Kearney Horticulture teacher Ellen Hansen said.
Most students develop a sense of responsibility and take personal interest in the plants reports Hansen. Students seem to enjoy the hands-on component of the class. Caroline, a student in the class, said, “I like the hands-on part with the teaching in the classroom. We get to experience more while learning. In the world we live in today, not a lot of people get to grow their own food or know where it comes from. So it is cool that we get to learn how to grow our own plants and then can take that knowledge and grow them at home.”
The Monroe County 4-H Program is offered through Cornell Cooperative Extension to the youth of Monroe County. 4-H is a worldwide youth development program open to all youth aged 5 to 19, who want to have fun, learn new skills, and explore the world. In return, youth who participate in 4-H find a supportive environment and opportunities for hands-on or “experiential” learning about things that interest them.
Learn more at http://monroe.cce.cornell.edu/4-h-youth-development.
–Cornell Cooperative Extension Monroe County
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