AWM Students all about the Agriculture

AWM Students all about the Agriculture

Hands- on farming lessons make for enlightening learning experience

West Memphis School District Academies of West Memphis students recently got some hands-on after-school lessons, and in the process got their hands very dirty.

The students were supervised and taught by Elzadia Washington-Danaux, who lives in Proctor, but who served as an American diplomat for more than 30 years, in projects to 'preserve our agriculture.'

'The overall goal of this activity was to promote the increased consumption of fresher, more favorable and healthier local fruits and vegetables to our local students,' said Washington-Danaux.

In an attempt to decrease the rising cases of obesity and diet-related health issues affecting the nation and Crittenden County, the after-school activity educated the students about the benefits of eating more fruit and vegetables with a strong focus on localgrown produce.

Students planted fruits and vegetables in and around Proctor from the fall of 2015 to the summer of 2016. The students not only planted the produce, they tended it, harvested and marketed it.

In fact, the AWM students raised watermelons that were just recently picked and donated to their school's cafeteria, where they were served for lunch during the first week of school.

'A lot of our students loved the melons so much that they asked if they could have it on the menu again,' said director of food services for the WMSD Carol Gean. 'The kids did a great job growing them and they were really were good. We hope in the next few days we can serve them again.'

They also visited the Southern Tenant Farmers Museum, located in the historic Mitchell-East Building in Tyronza.

The lesson plans included land preparation, planting, weeding, watering, harvesting, organic versus non-organic, farm equipment, profit margin, land ownership, eating habits and food preparation.

'I basically wanted to expose the students to farming and food production,' Washington-Danaux added. 'It's unfortunate that many youths today are not aware of how food is grown and where it comes from.'

Washington-Danaux took the Blue Devil students to her family-owned and operated farm, the Vera Heritage Farm in Proctor.

Students spent at least oneand- a-half hours a week on

the farm. The students also received additional instruction from AWM English teacher

Cheryl Minnis, Russell Parker and others in the Crittenden County Cooperative Extension Service and Alex Cole of the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff/East Arkansas Enterprise in Forrest City.

By Billy Woods