Clatskanie Middle/High School (CMHS) has an innovative program that students say they love, but it doesn’t require texting or an Instagram connection. Instead, it really connects to the setting of the Klatskany Community Gardens next to Cope’s Park.
This popular farming class, taught by James Byrne, focuses on sustainable decision-making.
“By putting their hands in the soil and spending time manipulating the local habitat in the agricultural realm, they will feel empowered to manipulate it better,” Byrne said.
According to Byrne, integrating our connection to the land through our actions allows us to recognize the value and importance of the resources involved and to care for them.
“If you’re interested, you can make choices about resource use with an eye toward sustainability and environmental improvement,” he said.
In addition to connecting students to the agricultural environment, classes are designed to connect each student to the community. Students grow lettuce and tomatoes that go directly into CMHS school meals.
This shows the direct impact they have on feeding themselves and their peers. They also grow, harvest and sell their food through local farmers markets. This market connects students to the larger community by demonstrating that their efforts are valued and that their products are in demand.
Chloe May, a CMHS student, said the agriculture class was very valuable to her.
“It meant a lot to me,” she said. “This is something I probably wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t been in this class. I’m using.”
Byrne emphasizes the importance of connecting with farmers markets.
“This connection is very good because people can see the great things they are doing and show them that there are ways they can participate through farming,” Byrne said. Told.
Students are also taught the value of resources. “Unless students understand the value of things, we cannot change our society from a disposable mindset to a sustainable mindset,” Byrne said. In Byrne’s class, students learn the values of agriculture from start to finish. Important lessons like these include seed cost, germination rate, soil cost, how to make your own soil, how much fertilizer to use, and the final cost of the finished product. and measure success in terms of sustainability.
“When students put all these facts together and understand that we can make a profit and make a profit in a way that our value output is greater than our value input, they will understand sustainability and “You’ll have a real connection with the world,” Byrne said.
Students say they have had a lot of success so far by participating in classes. These include:
• Prepare the growing space by removing the dryer felt and raised bed and covering it with bark chips and compost.
• Consignment sales at farmers markets.
• Sell native plants and hanging flower baskets through Mother’s Day sales.
• Grow herbs from cuttings.
• Grow and harvest sunflower seeds and have each student prepare for a taste test task.
• Maintain an active honeycomb that produces honey.
“We are currently growing peas, cucumbers, lettuce, radishes, spinach and kale,” Byrne said. “We also experimented with Hugelkultur.”
Hugelkultur is a mound bed or mound culture, composed of decaying wood debris and other compostable biomass plant material that is later planted as a raised bed.
Another exciting experiment in this class is an aquaponics experiment. Aquaponics works for fish, according to the Aquaponics Source Guide. The work of eating and excreting feces that these fish do is the perfect fertilizer for growing plants. Byrne’s ponds are a sight to behold. Made of logs and stone, it serves as a complement to the disused greenhouses that Byrne acquired and which he transplanted onto the CMHS property.
“The agriculture program was really inspiring to me,” said student Taylor Crawford. “There is always a sense of community and satisfaction in growing plants together.”
Student Ben Hadley agrees with Taylor.
“For me, farming is something everyone should know,” Hadley said. “It holds society together and is important to life. Personally, learning how to create and maintain my own garden is very helpful, and also important in case of disaster or to keep local crops healthy.” is.”
“None of these amazing things would have happened without the dedication and hard work of the students, the guidance and support of Brandon Schilling and his wife Jasmine Lirich (also known as Wild Locals).” Byrne said.
Schilling manages the Kratskany Community Garden.
For more information, call CMHS 503-728-2146.