By Chris Kieffer
SALTILLO – Laurie Baggett’s agricultural science classes at Saltillo High School began keeping an outdoor garden last spring.
They soon will have a greenhouse, too.
When Mississippi Department of Education representatives visited the school in October during an audit of the district’s vocational programs, they were impressed by the on-campus garden used by Baggett’s students. State Supervisor of Secondary Agricultural Programs Lee James then told Baggett and Lee County Vocational Director Stephen Peugh the MDE would find funds for the school to add a greenhouse.
“We didn’t do anything as far as writing a grant or asking for it,” Peugh said. “It was something that he saw a need for. We knew we needed it, but the money wasn’t available. He liked what she had going on with her classes and her students, and he went back and found the money.”
MDE provided a $33,000 grant, and the hope is that the greenhouse will be ready next semester. Baggett said it will allow the students to grow a greater variety of produce.
“It is so cool outside for the biggest part of the second semester,” Baggett said. “With the greenhouse, we will be able to do more. With the garden last year, things were just starting to produce about the time we got out of school.”
Baggett said she started the garden last spring because she thought it would help the students in her science of agricultural plants class. They grew squash and cucumbers. This fall, her science of agricultural environment class grew turnip greens, mustard greens, collard greens and squash.
With the greenhouse, they may add tomatoes and peppers, she said.
“It will get us out of the typical classroom setup and give them a chance to do more hands-on learning and be involved in these plants from start to finish, taking care of them each day,” she said.
“It gives them the opportunity to be involved in things some of them don’t have the opportunity to do at home.”