ASHWAUBENON, Wis. (WFRV) – Urban gardening is growing in popularity. One local teacher is making sure his students put down the laptops, and even books to get out of the classroom and get a green thumb.
“We have strawberries, raspberries, blueberries a lot going on out here” says Ashwaubenon High School Science Teacher Dan Albrent.
When you think of prime farming land, the middle of Ashwaubenon probably does not come to mind.
“We do not have a greenhouse. We do not have an FFA program here. That is something that is not a focus for us, but I think that is a life skill that is just missed” he says.
Albrent saw an opportunity. “About four years ago I noticed that we had this nice green spot in the middle of our school and I am a big proponent of getting kids outside and doing stuff with their hands and dirty a little bit” he explains.
Once overgrown with weeds the courtyard garden is starting to take shape. According to Albrent “We have native wildflowers along our main path here. We have fruit trees from apples, pears, plums, cherries. We have eight planters boxes for lettuce a green house that has gone crazy with tomatoes that we are still picking to get into our lunch room”.
So far they have frozen about 20 pounds of the ripe tomatoes to be turned into spaghetti sauce for the school lunchroom. “I have larger goals to make enough money to build a bigger greenhouse, to supply more food for the entire district” he explains.
Students are truly understanding how food gets from farm to table. “At some point in class I ask, where did the food on your plate last night come from? For a lot of kids it is the grocery store or I do not know”.
It is opening the door to Agriculture related careers and growing a passion for plants. “You had kids coming out talking about how their lettuce was cooler than their lettuce and it was bigger than theirs” Albrent says with a laugh.
A crop of students soaking in knowledge through experience. “For kids who have actually gotten their hands full of mud, and dirt it is starting to get fewer and fewer. To say go plant this, they do not know. Its important to even know how to plant it, take care of it”.
And possibly start a garden of their own at home.