Students grow crops for needy

By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal

NETTLETON – Some Nettleton High School students are using their agriculture class as a way to give back to their community.
The Future Farmers of America group that operates through Nettleton High School’s agriculture program received grant money from Land O’Lakes for the second year to plant produce that will be donated to Tupelo’s Salvation Army.
“We grew almost 1,000 pounds of corn and peas last year and it all went to The Salvation Army in Tupelo,” said Jesse Cornelius, agriculture teacher and FFA adviser at Nettleton High School. “This year we’re hoping for a ton if we can get it all picked.”
The students planted peas and sweet corn this summer and began picking the peas Thursday morning. They will start picking and processing the corn next week.
“The program helps us tremendously because having fresh produce is good for our individuals who come in and also for those that come in for food boxes,” said Salvation Army Maj. Sue Dorman. “A lot of time they can’t get the fresh food at the grocery store because of the cost. This has been a good change instead of just getting canned vegetables.”
Cornelius’ son, Will Cornelius, 13, said he enjoys being able to help others out and not just focusing on himself.
“They learn a lot of hands-on agriculture-type skills and they get the opportunity to give back in the community,” said the elder Cornelius.
“Later on, we’ll actually go up to The Salvation Army. We’ll carry a bunch of kids up there and they’ll get to see what this food is actually doing and the people it’s helping. Most of them don’t realize the number of people who go to bed hungry every night and wake up hungry – not just around the world but actually in our community, too.”
Teri Leigh Young, 16, said this is an opportunity to combine her interest with a good service.
“I’ve always been interested in agriculture and this program is good for you,” Teri said. “It’s the best feeling to give something to someone in need. It’s not just about yourself, it’s about everybody.”
The $1,200 grants from Land O’Lakes were given to six programs in its first year, 2011, and now 17 gardens are participating nationwide with the goal of donating 100,000 servings of fresh produce to community food banks.
jb.clark@journalinc.com