Planting Seeds with the Next Generation of Agriculturists

Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College Agriculture Innovation Program supports the next generation of agriculturists by providing an in-school agricultural educational farmers market experiential program.

The Potomac Highlands Producers Cooperative worked with local producers in the region to purchase seasonal produce to construct a mock farmers market in Moorefield Intermediate School and East Hardy Middle School in early October. As part of the hands-on educational sessions, students received coupons to purchase produce from the mock farmers market.

“This not only sparked interest of the true process in growing produce, but also allowed students to have a real-world experience ‘grocery shopping,’” said Director of Agriculture Innovation John Riggs. “By planting positive seeds with youth, permitting them to purchase local foods, I believe we are instilling in them the health benefits of eating fresh fruits and vegetables.”

Students were exposed to a variety of fruits and vegetables and were given information about the produce and how they can be cooked and consumed. Additionally, students experienced a hands-on challenge to pick a limited amount of items on a budget, which mimicked shopping for produce.

“By giving them the opportunity to ‘purchase’ a healthy fruit or vegetable, we are providing them with nutritional values that will follow them for years to come,” Riggs said. “The students will be able to take their purchases home with them to be used to help feed themselves and their families at home.”

In addition to the farmers market, the students participated in a taste testing of apples and had the opportunity to vote for their favorite variety. Five different varieties of apples from Spring Valley Farm and Orchard were used in the market. Any remaining products after the session were turned over to the school’s food service team for use in meals.

High school students who were enrolled in the Prostart Program were also a part of the experience by preparing the apples for an educational training session. Riggs explained that this type of education demonstrates to younger students the process of preparing a meal and helped them understand the importance of food preparation and safety, while also giving them the opportunity to learn how to create a quality, healthy meal.

Learn more about Ag Innovation at Eastern here or call John Riggs at 304-434-8000 ext. 9608.