Students learn farm-to-table skills in greenhouse


Wadena-Deer Creek School students are learning lifelong skills in an independent study offered by greenhouse manager Kathy Connell.

Becoming self-sufficient and producing organic, local foods is becoming popular and kids are bringing the knowledge they gain at school home with them to share with their families, Connell said.

WDC School District is fortunate to have a high tunnel after it was awarded a $25,000 grant for a high tunnel greenhouse through America's Farmers Grow Rural Education, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund. Connell will be guiding students this spring as they plant a variety of produce in the large greenhouse on the east side of the middle/high school. This is in addition to the smaller, year-round greenhouse that has underground heat.

Several students are taking an independent study with Connell and love spending time in the school greenhouse.

Students planted peas and radishes from seed in the high-tunnel greenhouse this week and the greenhouse is planning ahead to Mother's Day as well.

Rows and rows of hanging baskets are filled with strawberry plants. The idea is to sell them around Mother's Day.

"I love being out here and being able to work with my hands," said Jordan Kain. He also gardens at home and is thinking about pursuing a career as a producer or gardener. His favorite vegetable is cukes (cucumbers), he says,

Student Brianna Burke 's favorite vegetable is the tomato. She enjoys working in the garden and loves to see the produce she grows end up on the plates of students in the cafeteria.

Issac Breitling likes peppers and has enjoyed the planning involved with planting and harvesting at WDC.

Connell has enjoyed teaching students about gardening and she hopes some of them will develop green thumbs. She is fondly known as "Granny Green" among her students.

In March, about 200 marigolds will be planted by WDC Elementary students to give to their mothers for Mother's Day as well.

Plans for this summer include a small-scale produce stand where students can sell fruits and vegetables to the public.

Connell said once details are figured out she will announce the times and days the produce stand will be open.