ROSWELL, GA. – As one generation goes, another comes. Over 50 percent of America’s farmer’s today are 55 and older. The organization formerly known as the Future Farmers of America (now going as FFA) is a youth organization that prepares young people to take on careers in farming, whether that’s the technology, science or business of farming. There are two Fulton County high school’s with FFA chapters and, thanks to a grant from Fulton County, the Chattahoochee Nature Center is working with these FFA students in plant science, specifically food gardening.
The Chattahoochee Nature Center supplies seeds and starter plants this year to Creekside High School and Cambridge High School FFA programs. At Creekside High School, CNC Horticulturist Lisa McCusker, is working with FFA teacher Traves Hymen to teach his students how to propagate, plant, and harvest these vegetables in their raised bed garden and greenhouse. McCusker meets Cambridge High School FFA teacher, Sarah Nerswick, and her students at a 4,500-square-foot garden plot at a city of Alpharetta park. This unique partnership between Alpharetta, the CNC and Fulton County Schools gives students a place to garden while CNC provides hands on instruction.
The goal for the students this year was to grow these vegetables for the Cambridge cafeteria.
“We’re happy to say this goal was reached,” said Julie Hollingsworth Hogg, Horticulture Manager at CNC. “Students at Cambridge High School have been eating the vegetables that these FFA students planted and harvested.”
Through the work of Hollingsworth Hogg and her staff, she said she hopes the CNC can educate students at these high schools in understanding where food begins.
“Who knows?” she said, “They may become our next farmers.”
Known throughout the state as one of the best growers of pollinator plants as well as rare or endangered species, CNC also operates its own urban farm, the Unity Garden. This quarter-acre plot of land operates year-round as an outdoor classroom for schools and everything grown in it is donated to the North Fulton Community Charities food pantry.
For more about CNC’s horticulture and conservation efforts, visit www.chattnaturecenter.org.