The Ottumwa Courier

Education

May 9, 2013

From the ground up Pekin students raise greenhouse, food and funds

PACKWOOD — Students at Pekin High School were working hard to build a new agricultural building on school property. It didn't matter that they don't know exactly what the payoff will be.

"Everybody here is going into it knowing nothing," said student Kirk Talley. "We're going to learn from this."

Planting, gardening and harvesting they do know. Where the mystery is remains with what the new building will do for them.

"It's an experiment," said Pekin student J.D. Hollingsworth. "We'll take data and learn more as we go."

Student Kyle Miller said they'll be planting crops known to do well in cold weather. The building allows them to plant about a month earlier than usual. And if everything goes according to plan, they can safely wait an extra month before they harvest.

"We've already got a greenhouse, and now we're putting up a high tunnel," said teacher Juston Lamb of the Pekin Agriculture Education Department..

His students describe a high tunnel as being similar to a greenhouse in that it protects the plants and provides warmth. But the tunnel is just a roof and walls with no floor.

"A greenhouse," explained J.D., "everything is grown in pots. In a high tunnel, crops are planted in the ground."

Kirk described the tunnel as a type of greenhouse, like a tent, there to protect crops. It's cost effective, too, he said.

"The rails are going down now," said J.D. "The building is only 48 feet, the rails are 96 feet."

So when it's time to protect experimental crop "A," they leave the roof where it stands. But when they want to experiment on crop "B," they roll the entire structure forward to warm and protect that ground.

"It's a garden with a roof," J.D. said.

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