Big berries bloom in little CKS garden

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By The Staff

"I'm a strawberry fairy!" These were the words from Cedar Key Pre-K student, Annie McCain, as she took her first fresh-picked strawberry and popped it into her mouth. The eighth grade Ag class assisted members of Cedar Key's Pre-K class in picking their freshly grown strawberries. It all started when Mr. Bruce Wilson donated supplies, plants and guidance to Cedar Key School's Ag and FFA program. Thanks to Mr. Wilson's generosity, the middle school students built a hydroponics system to learn about this modern Ag method.

On Oct. 22, 2007, the strawberries were planted. Students in their last period Ag class, with teacher, Mr. Dennis Voyles, have been managing and carefully monitoring the growth of the plants. Now the eighth graders have been caring for and harvesting the strawberries. Before this began and before the strawberries were planted a lot of planning took place. The first nine weeks' class starting putting the hydroponics system together. The second nine weeks' class planted and took care of the small, but steadily growing plants. The third nine weeks' classes took care of the blossoming stage, and are now harvesting the fruits of the past three classes' combined efforts.

The strawberry harvest is expected to continue throughout this coming spring and early summer. This whole time, the Pre-K class has watched in amazement, as the project grew and developed. Our biggest "little" fan and self-proclaimed "Strawberry Fairy," Annie McCain, 4, watched eagerly as the students toiled, hoping someday to be able to pick a freshly grown strawberry. On Jan. 14, her wish was granted by the class. Assisted by FFA president Savannah Beckham, Annie was able to pick a beautiful, red, ripe strawberry. The rest of the class paired up with eighth grade "helpers" to participate in the first official harvest. FFA vice president and fellow eighth grader, Jenny Bierman, stated, "I really enjoyed helping the preschoolers and being able to witness their excitement about picking the first berries."

After Annie and the Pre-K kids picked their strawberries, everybody went into the Pre-K classroom and Ms. Kathy McCain read the children a book called "The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear."

All of this was possible thanks to the many following donors. Steve Brosh, owner of Smart World Organics, located in Hudson, donated the plastic tier assemblies, growth medium, and the pump. Bruce Wilson donated over 300 strawberry plants and still continues to help and advise us. Michelle Hagan, a former Bronson FFA member, donated Styrofoam tiers and plumbing supplies. Similar to the donations given to start our FFA clam project, this project was possible through the generosity of FFA supporters. This project is not just about profit; the Ag classes plan on giving educational tours to all classes in the elementary school, teaching about modern farming and how the system works.