MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – We’ve been following the Mary G. Montgomery High School Horticulture and Agriculture Program for a little over a year — and are always surprised by what they’re growing and learning.
The morning sun is barely in the sky and work is already underway at the MGM cornfield to beat the heat.
“Guys we are going to pick everything out here that we’ve got. Big ears, little ears — everything,” said Emily Dent, MGM Horticulture & Agriculture teacher.
Under the direction of the Agriculture teachers — the students planted the bi-color sweet corn back in early March.
“It’s a hope and a dream… to get out of it what you put into it. That’s what farming and growing vegetables is,” explained Dent.
Their hard work is paying off. The students are harvesting their second wave of corn.
“I’m picking them and then checking to see if they’re actually able to be picked. Like this one there it’s starting to dry up and a whole bunch of little bugs in them. So that wouldn’t really be able to be sold,” explained Anthony Thornton, MGM Senior.
The process has taught the students how to irrigate, fertilize, and have lots of patience.
“It’s an experience in and of itself to say hey — we planted this and now we are watching it grow and then just to be able to harvest it… Take it… And eat it. Take it home and eat it all in the same day,” said Dent. “I even freeze some and every time I eat it… I’m so incredibly proud that my students grew this.”
Alabama’s weather pattern is also teaching them how to improvise — adapt — and overcome.
“We make a joke — about them being amateur meteorologists because we look at the weather and take that into account – and say hey this is what’s coming — we need to prepare for it,” said Dent.
Remember that hail storm a few weeks ago??? — Dent showed us some of the damage left behind on the corn crop. “So this is actually wind and hail damage and of course it starts to kill the actual plant.”
“It literally blew it over. We thought it was done for — we thought it was water-logged. We thought it was done for. We thought it was gone. But sure enough the sun came out and gave it all the nutrients it needed and it sprouted right back up,” recalled Wes Stephens, recent MGM graduate.
They can’t grow enough — the sweet corn has sold out at the Semmes Farmer’s Market.
“When you take a gamble — it’s always a surprise when it pays off… It’s like that Christmas box you open — you never know what you’re going to get,” said Stephens.
“It’s very rewarding to see it — and see that people want to buy it and enjoy it,” said Thornton.
While it was a test run — for this untraditional classroom — they’ve learned a thing or two before planting their next wave.
“We only planted about a third of an acre. And we definitely learned that this small little bit we have planted here is definitely not enough,” said Dent.
The work never stops — last week they planted 1,200 mums to be ready for their fall sale in October.
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