NEGAUNEE - This spring, groups of Negaunee High School students worked together to construct and plant a small hoop house on the school's property.
Working throughout the summer, the students, including biology classes and clubs like the Key Club, produced a variety of vegetables from tomatoes to pumpkins, plus herbs like basil.
"The cherry tomatoes were really good," said Adriana Ruiz, 17, a senior student involved with the hoop house project.
Students at Negaunee High School are continuing work on their hoop house, which they worked to maintain throughout the summer and the beginning of the school year. The students, like Key Club member Emma Collins, 17, seen above, recently harvested the bulk of their vegetables and are waiting to pick the last pumpkins before putting in a winter crop. (Journal photo by Johanna Boyle)
"We weeded and harvested everything," said fellow senior Emma Collins, 17.
The groups, led by teachers Helen Grossman and Sherri Holmgren, are waiting for their final pumpkins to ripen before putting in a winter crop.
During the first few months of school, students who were involved in the hoop house got to sample their produce in salads and other dishes, prepared by Grossman for events like club meetings. Working with the hoop house has allowed the students to become more connected to the food they eat, and to recognize the environmental impact of their food. It is the hope of the students and their teachers that the program will eventually produce vegetables for use in the school's cafeteria.
The 10-by-16 hoop house at Negaunee, however, is just one of the first to be put in place at area schools.
The Marquette Community Foundation, which provided a grant to help construct the Negaunee High School hoop house, is currently working with the Marquette County Health Department's Building a Healthier Community grant program to fund hoop houses at other area high schools.
The new hoop houses would be larger, closer to the size of the hoop house that is in place at Northern Michigan University.
"The idea is to be able to have students discover for themselves that the healthy choice can be an easy choice," said George Sedlacek of the health department.
Besides being fresh and healthy, and often organic, locally grown food does not require fossil fuels to be transported thousands of miles from where it is grown to where it is consumed.
Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.