BONIFAY - Holmes County High School's Ag program suffered a huge hit from Hurricane Michael when the storm destroyed their greenhouse. Luckily, Florida Agriculture in the Classroom (FAITC) responded with a $2,000 grant to help replace what was lost.
With winds of over 110 miles per hour, Michael laid devastation in his path including an important learning tool at HCHS. The greenhouse is used by students to germinate seeds for spring vegetables and transplant to the school garden located at the HCHS agriculture farm/land lab. It also allows the planting to begin earlier in the year because of the temperature controlled environment.
Most of what is planted is fruits and vegetables that students take home, according to ag teacher Shane Bush.
"The kids plant and tend to them and once grown, some are given away and the rest goes home with the students," said Bush.
Bush received an email from FAITC informing him of the grant possibility which was offered to all the counties affected by the storm in the amount of $2,000. Something he says was a godsend.
"Had we not received this grant, we wouldn't have been able to rebuild," said Bush. "We would have gone three to four years without a greenhouse in order to raise enough money to purchase a new one."
The cost will be around $4,000 to fully replace the previous structure. Bush says they will still have to come up with the rest of the money through livestock sales.
"We will be taking some of our cows to auction," said Bush. "We will add those funds to those from the grant and purchase our new greenhouse."
Bush also says the location of the greenhouse will be moved just over from where it currently sits in shambles. The new location is closer to the building to allow for more protection from the elements, a securer location and easier access.
According to its website, FAITC is a non-profit organization that develops and trains teachers and agriculture industry volunteers in its agricultural curricula and materials, which they in turn use to educate students about the importance of agriculture.
It also provides grant money to teachers and volunteers for projects that teach students where their food comes from, and the important contributions Florida farmers make to their communities and their state. The program is funded through sales of the specialty agriculture license plate from the DMV.