NHS garden continues to grow
NORFOLK, Neb. -- Nine years later, Norfolk High School's garden continues to grow.
In 2014, Norfolk High said that high school teacher and FFA sponsor Johnathan Anderson wanted a way to get his hands dirty, but more importantly, he wanted to get his students' hands dirty, according to the press release.
Students in Anderson's agriculture classes raise a variety of animals and hydroponic plants inside his classrooms.
Even though they are growing the plants inside, the press release said that the students aren't getting the real world, hands on experiences where they get dirt under the fingernails.
"When I was offered the job at Norfolk, I said I needed to have an outdoor garden and chickens to teach students about agriculture," Anderson said.
Over the years, Anderson and his students have grown a range of crops in the beds just across the street from his classroom.
A few of the crops include: potatoes, spinach, broccoli, lettuce, apples, grapes, rive, buckwheat, millet, wheat, rye, oats, kale, and radishes.
According to the release, the students mostly grow cool-season vegetables and cover crops.
Students in the Plant & Soil Science class get first hand experience with plants, harvests, packages, fertilizers, herbicides, and soil identification.
Students have also used the beds to do agriscience projects including raised bed cover study and a study on concrete.
NHS said the students have taken harvested crops to the Nebraska State Fair.
Some years with a mild fall and early winter have meant that those cool-season crops like broccoli have been harvested through December.
It was noted that not every year yields a successful harvest. The dry conditions over the summer of 2022 meant the cover crops didn't do well.
So in the 2022-23 school year, an irrigation system from the Alternatives for Success building was relocated to the garden.
Over the years, the crops Anderson and the students have harvested have been used in a range of settings. Some of the crops have been composted to keep the ground fertile for upcoming years while others have ended up as chicken feed as part of the Animal Science class.
NHS said that garden has literally grown.
When the seating at the high school track across the street was replaced, Anderson saw an opportunity to repurpose the bleacher seating.
Students in the Nursery and Landscape class used those wooden planks to raise the beds higher and improve the look and functionality of the garden beds.
The water catch system also relies on solar power.
One of the most rewarding aspects of the garden program has been the opportunity to share much of the food they have grown with the Norfolk Rescue mission.
Anderson credits past and current high school administrators for providing the financial support to keep the garden going. A range of sponsors, including Farmers Pride, Kaup Forage & Turf, CVA Norfolk Public Schools Foundation, and Nebraska FFA Foundation, and a range of grants have all helped to provide the needed resources.
It was noted in the press release that the garden is for the students who are willing to learn in the classroom and apply what they learn to the dirt that feeds the world.