BELLE GLADE — Thanks to assistance from the givers at U.S. Sugar Corp., some Glades Central High School students are working on growing their own greens and herbs at the school for a special culinary project.
Elizabeth MacEwan, GCHS library media specialist and social media manager, who’s also coordinator for the Johnson Scholars/ ake Stock in Children Mentees, said that thanks to generous support from U.S. Sugar, a group of home economics students are cultivating the greens now for an upcoming luncheon.
First, she wanted to recognize the “boots in the garden,” so to speak.
“Big thanks to the following FFA students and Library Ambassadors for all their hard work, especially our Project Manager Fabio Louis, an FFA student, and FFA sponsor Amanda Orsenigo. They are Ariel Betancourt, Celimarry Borjas, Saul Conzuelo, Rosie Flezinord, Kimberly Garcia and Teo Osegueda.
Ms. MacEwan explained that with equipment that were part of the U.S. Sugar gift, first they planted seedlings in transplantable pods to install, after they’d sprouted, in a custom-built hydroponic tower.
They’re calling it their “Garden Tower.” Right now, it’s growing arugula, chard, Bibb (butterhead) lettuce and gourmet lettuces, sweet basil and Black Magic (or “Dinosaur”) kale. The latter is described as a “stunning edible Italian heirloom plant,” rich in vitamins and minerals. These can be harvested for either baby greens or allowed to grow larger to produce things other than sandwich garnishes or salad greens.
Ms. MacEwan explained their plans: “Once the plants have grown, they will be harvested, and then my home-ec students will create a dish using the lettuces and basil. We will then host a farm-to-table luncheon in The Raider Cafe (here in the library). It will be small since it is a small harvest but it should be a cool experience.”
They get to concoct dishes
She continued: “Now, we will begin working with the Consumer Science students and Carrol Myers-Ramsay to prepare a dish with our harvest that will be served out of The Raider Cafe as a fundraiser to sustain the project and the FFA and Consumer Science programs.”
“Of course, none of this would be possible without the support of U.S. Sugar!” she added, extending special thanks to Ryan Duffy and Judy Clayton Sanchez of the company’s corporate communications department.
“We will continue this project and hopefully expand to a second tower garden at some point — fingers crossed,” said Ms. MacEwan, asked about their future plans. “This will make the availability and volume of our crops more sustainable for a monthly Farm to Table Luncheon fundraiser.”
She said the FFA program, led by Amanda Orsenigo, “also has a garden and is working on construction of their own tower garden. My dream is to purchase one of these new FarmBots for the engineering, agriculture and library students to collaborate on, but that would be a $5,000 investment.”
Ms. MacEwan provided a link where people can get information about that new innovation in micro-agriculture: https://farm.bot/.
She said that in addition, “U.S. Sugar provided me with $1,000 to put toward a scholarship program. GCHS students in 11th and 12th grade will be eligible to apply, and the application will open in November. The goal is to highlight how Glades Central students are connected to agriculture, whether it’s through their family, their community, their history or even through the foods that they eat every day. Two $500 scholarships will be awarded to eligible students who have the highest rated essays.”
That was in addition to purchasing the tower garden. Glades Central High School (GCHS) students are grateful for U.S. Sugar’s help, as well.
Fabio, who took some of the photos accompanying this article along with Ms. MacEwan, said he worked with Rosie, Kimberly, Teo and others to physically put the Garden Tower together. “That’s a great project,” he said.
He said he and they assembled the tower together, but he didn’t know about the scholarships being offered yet.