Jasper High School students are learning the true meaning of farm to table.Friday marked the first meeting of the school's new Viking Victory Garden Club that is designed for students to plant a …
Jasper High School students are learning the true meaning of farm to table.
Friday marked the first meeting of the school's new Viking Victory Garden Club that is designed for students to plant a garden and learn to prepare the foods they grow — all while incorporating STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) concepts.
Around 50 students have signed up for the club so far, and they were busy planting seeds on Friday.
Beth Kennedy, assistant principal of Jasper High, said the school's culinary instructor, Marulynn Lockett, used to have a small garden at the old Walker High School. Now student and faculty members are in the process of conceptualizing a garden for their new school.
"We wanted to do something that was going to make an impact and really get kids involved," Kennedy said. "They developed a plan today for what they wanted to do, and everybody worked together to do that."
The school's garden will be located in one of the courtyards and fill an approximate 50 feet by 45 feet space.
Dorman Grace, president of the Walker County Farmers Federation, said WCFF has donated raised beds for planting, and the school's machine tool technology program students will build signage and an arbor for the garden.
Grace said Jasper High is the only high school in Walker County that doesn't have a Future Farmers of America program. He hopes the new garden club will get students excited about farming and possibly consider it as a career option.
"The average age of farmers are about my age. There's not many young folks coming behind, and we've got to do something," Grace said. "Whether they farm or not, they're going to learn life lessons here."
He added, "I'm so excited. I'm amazed at the ones that are interested."
Lockett said she is excited for students to learn food preparation methods and healthy eating habits in conjunction with the garden club. She's hoping the club will result in partnerships between multiple programs as well.
"Everybody has an opportunity to get involved at any level," she said.
STEM concepts will be integrated into the garden's upkeep as students do soil testing, conduct plant and nutritional research, and create a business model, in addition to many other activities.
"We're trying to think outside the box and get the kids really working and applying what they're learning in the classroom to other things so that they truly learn it and it's not just a blank that they're filling in," Kennedy said.
Anyone who would like to help sponsor the garden club with planting supplies or other services may call Jasper High School at 205-221-9277.