Updated: Jun 21
In Fall 2021, Allen Fort, the superintendent of Taliaferro County, shared his vision with Harrison Poultry’s CEO, David Bleth, to establish a garden and green house for their school. Mr. Fort has experience in a previous school system that designed an agriculture program and believed it would benefit Taliaferro’s students and community. Harrison Poultry, Inc. strives to be leaders in the community through service and community development and was excited to collaborate with Taliaferro County Schools in a corporate sponsorship. Recently, I had the chance to chat with Taliaferro Country’s Agriculture teacher, Claire Woodard, and learn about their agriculture program and get an update on their garden.
Ms. Woodard shared that after a 20-year hiatus, the Taliaferro greenhouse is back in use and their garden was established in March of 2022. The garden is comprised of 18 raised beds. 14 of the beds are used by students and the others will be available for the community to use and maintain. Taliaferro County is considered to be a food desert because it is 20-30 minutes from a grocery store with fresh produce. This garden will benefit both students and the community in giving greater access to fresh produce. This year, Ms. Woodard’s students planted tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, peas, beans, potatoes, pumpkins, spinach, lettuces and things like marigold to naturally repel pests.
All middle school students get to come through Ms. Woodard’s agriculture course and most high school students will participate in an additional agriculture course. Ms. Woodard described how the garden creates a great opportunity for students to get real world experience in seeing a project from start to finish. Students get to begin with the seeds and see it through all the way to harvest. This year was the first year that her class took some of their produce to a local food stand to sell to the community. She said that they didn’t make much money, but even that was a learning experience to see how much her students would need to harvest in order to make a more desirable profit.
Harrison Poultry, Inc. donated a total of $100,000 over two years (2021-2022) to the Taliaferro school system for the garden and greenhouse in addition to a playground for the elementary students. "Harrison Poultry was really pleased to partner with the school on their community garden project. It has been wonderful to receive updates from Allen, and to see the final project completed. It is quite an accomplishment to bring their vision to life and have impacted their community in such a positive and healthy way with fresh produce. We wish them many more successful growing and harvest seasons with their students", said David Bleth.
Congratulations to Ms. Woodward and her students on their success in growing and selling their first batch of fresh produce! May your labors result in a bountiful harvest!