Gem State Adventist Academy Opens Garden Stand
Gem State Adventist Academy (GSAA) Gardens in Caldwell recently opened the Garden Stand, featuring produce organically grown on eight acres of donated garden space.
Glen Rick, GSAA Gardens manager, had 10 students working the fields this summer. They began planting early in the year and sold more than 30 Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) GardenBox subscriptions. From June to September/October, the GardenBoxes feature a wide variety of produce. Already, subscribers have enjoyed kale, beets, onion, tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squash, green beans and sweet corn. Fresh raspberries and apricots from one of the donated garden plot owners have been included as a yummy bonus. Produce that isn’t sold through the CSAs or the Garden Stand is sold to a local ranch market.
The students plant, weed, irrigate and harvest the crops and are learning how to grow organic food. Volunteers from the surrounding churches have pitched in, doing everything from transplanting, weeding and picking to washing and preparing GardenBoxes. Mentors teach corn cultivation, tomato techniques, pest management and irrigation. Donations of a truck, tractors, rototillers and an ATV have come in, as well as an offer to teach fruit-tree grafting.
Wayne Wentland, GSAA principal, is excited by the great start to the school’s agricultural program. “We already have available 12–14 acres of the school’s land, which has previously been leased to an area farmer, to plant for the next school year," he says. "As the industry grows, we will be able to add additional acreage. This is a wonderful way to provide employment opportunities for our students, to assist them and their parents in covering the cost of tuition.”
The gardens aren’t the only evidence of growth at GSAA. A science teacher has been hired for this school year. Keep up with the latest GSAA news at www.gemstate.org and www.gemstateacademygardens.com.