GCT students get dirty to help the community

PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) - With the weather cooperating these past few days, it's tough to find an excuse to stay inside. That might be why some Greene County Tech kids are skipping out on sitting in class.

They aren't being delinquent though, quite the opposite. They've been benefiting food pantries and people around town through multiple gardens.

"We call it Growing Greene, with an 'e' at the end for Greene County, Community Gardens," GCT FFA member, Morgan Faulkner told Region 8 News.

It's a combination of hands on and getting their hands dirty.

"With this pitchfork, you have to aerate the soil," Faulkner described as she worked on a garden bed Wednesday afternoon. "Today we're gonna plant corn seeds, okra and tomatoes."

Community gardens like the one at the Senior Bee Center in Paragould are getting Greene County Tech FFA members involved in school work as well as the community.

"Doing it hands on is just a much better learning experience than doing worksheets in class," Faulkner said.

She and about 20 other students tend the gardens. Six in total across the community with three that aid local food pantries.

"We have a raised bed garden at the Mission. The members work at," Faulkner explained. "They can take ownership and be proud that they grew something like that."

Those who benefit from the Senior Bee Center will be able to take the produce grown in these gardens home.

Hester Wooldridge is an avid gardener herself, "I love to get my hands dirty, I love being outside."

She said the work these kids are doing is great for the Paragould community.

"Young people need to know how to work. When we were growing up we had to work," Wooldridge told Region 8 News. "I'm really proud for Tech doing this."

As for the students working on it, they say it's not just something to do to get out of class. It's something they're passionate about.

"Honestly, there's nothing that makes you feel better than having all these people be so thankful," Faulkner said.

In all, there are 1,700 square feet of community gardens throughout town.

Three are located at Greene County Tech campuses. Aside from the garden located at the Senior Bee Center, there is a location at Mission Outreach and the Witt House. Produce grown at each of those locations fuel their food pantries.

The gardens are funded through grants by Youth Service of America and National FFA.

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