Aug 31, 2023

Euclid Schools’ Farm in a Box holds second farm stand of the year

Students enrolled in the Memorial Options Agricultural Career Program in the Euclid School District recently held their second farm stand of the school year.

Customers were able to visit the farm stand located at 22800 Fox Ave., to enjoy the just harvested cabbage, beet greens, hydroponic lettuce and tri-colored radishes while washing it down with tea made from just-picked chamomile.

Students with Joshua Stephens, who heads the agricultural career program, spent the May 25 morning harvesting produce which due to the cold and rainy weather, was less than expected.

"The harvest is a little low because the spring weather was poor, but our hydroponics turned out really well," Stephens said. "We have tea crops today. We have cabbage and soaps. We’re going to push out about 200 pounds of produce today.

"Its one of the major fundraisers for the kids this year, so we hope to clear about a thousand dollars on it."

Stephens’ program includes 11th- and 12th-graders from the Mentor, Wickliffe and Euclid school districts. He designed the program to provide essential skills to students, giving them the choice to directly enter the workforce or start businesses on their own.

One of the students, Alecia, a Mentor student attending the program, viewed the weather as a lesson in learning how to adapt to the natural changing of the seasons and the outcome of gaining experience though trial and error.

"It's a very hands-on program," she said. "You learn a lot, field management and animal management and it's not just that. This program will push you into different fields, not just farming but veterinary science, soil science. It's not just limited to farm stands and farming."

The expansive agricultural career program that Stephens designed was created after he noticed a niche in the way students were able to gain skills from the practical management of the field crops to the technology used in their hydroponic farming unit. Mimicking the often-unpredictable real world job challenges that students face in the future.

One of the customers, Paulette Burton, came for the cabbage but to also show support for a program she wishes she had while growing up.

"I wish they would have had these when I was coming along in school," she said. "It gives the kids an experience it kind of puts them in the mindset of where they want to go. Things they might want to do. It gives them a heads up of what's out there."

One of the unique aspects of the program that was not on display at the farm stand was the spun fiber made from the Angora goats and French Angora rabbits, of which Stephens said his program is the only school in America to breed.

"I took one of the rabbits home with me, she had five kits," he said. "We breed them and spin the fiber to make yarn, we’re the only school program in America that breeds these rabbits, it's a unique opportunity for the students."

While the harvest this time around was a little less than expected, with good weather and the knowledge gained, students hope that the next farm stand planned for the middle of September will have more to show.

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