At a recent meeting of the Amery School Board, High School Agriculture instructor Derrick Meyer, shared plans for a future school farm. “This is a vision I have had for quite awhile,” Meyer said.
He started by reciting the Amery Agriculture Mission, “We prepare students for employment in agriculturally related fields and/or for further study in technical and
Collegiate level agriculture programs. Our classroom experience is inquiry-based and dynamic by combining practical training with academic preparation. Heavy emphasis is placed on helping students develop a sense of responsibility for themselves and their community.”
Meyer said the goals of the school farm would be:
• To Develop a Farm to Table Program and a School to Farm Program and educate our students about where their food comes from.
• To allow students an avenue to explore and career opportunities in the agriculture field as well as the trades in all of the career and technology areas.
• To provide “experiential learning” opportunities at the highest level.
• To include all of the CTE areas.
• To provide even more reasons why Amery is a “Destination” for their families to grow and prosper.
Meyer said one of the first projects to be started at the farm would be the planting of Christmas trees. Every kindergartner will plant 2 to 3 trees. The Amery Agriculture
Department will care for the trees and when students are juniors in high school, they will get to take a tree home for Christmas. The program would sell the rest of the trees.
The farm would also include an orchard and walking paths, school gardens, livestock production and a horsemanship-training program.
The property that Meyer and District Administrator Shawn Doerfler have their eyes on is located directly across the street from Amery High School. “We are not interested in purchasing 33 acres of land with tax payer money,” Doerfler said. The hope is that grant money and donations would make the farm dream into a reality.
The acreage would also provide spots for the High School Construction Academy to build more homes.
Meyer and Doerfler have visited the School District of New Richmond to see how their school farm set-up works.
Meyer shared planned phases of development with the school board. He said Phase One included:
• Property is purchased.
• Christmas Tree Farm is started with first class of Kindergartners. School Garden is established.
• Orchard is started on the west side of property.
• We will grow crops on the tillable land (soybeans or corn).
• There will be at least one site established to build a home for Mr. Ganje’s Construction class.
Phase Two includes:
• Mr. Ganje’s class will construct a sixteen horse stall poll shed and construct a outdoor arena for training.
• The livestock building is constructed for beef, goats, sheep and hogs. These animals will come in early spring/ late winter. Students will have a chance to keep and prepare their animals for the fair. If they are sold in the auction, the kids must pay back the price of that animal plus feed costs. The other animals will be sold for the school lunch program or to outside buyers.
Phase Three includes an onsite interactive classroom building being constructed. This includes a classroom area, a meat processing lab, and a large walk- in fridge/freezer for storage. Tours of the school farm could be based out of this facility. This would also include a store front for local items from the school farm and local farms to sell their wears. This would be part of a “Farm to School” program.
Meyer said statistics show kids that feel connected to the school are more likely to stay in school and succeed. He feels the school farm could provide children with opportunities for social and emotional growth; improve life skills, self-esteem and sense of self, social skills and behavior. He also said it could provide greater opportunity for necessary experiential and hands-on learning.
Monday November 17, Doerfler said, “We are completing grants to be submitted in order to raise the necessary funds for a potential purchase. In addition, we are in the planning the stages of securing donations from our agricultural community in and around Amery. Again, no District dollars will be used to purchase this land (if a purchase occurs).”