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School farm involves 1,000 teens
Good grades allow students to work growing veggies
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A well-groomed Montadale Sheep is groomed by one of the devoted Ag students at the school farm readying the animals for showing in this year’s San Joaquin County Fair. - photo by GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin
‘It’s a breath of fresh air for anyone to take time out to check out the school district’s active farm and witness kids at their best.

An hour spent watching the teens work at the farm raising vegetables, beef and dairy cattle, goats, rabbits, turkeys and various other types of fowl and poultry getting ready for the county and state fairs is inspirational to say the least.

Anyone stopping by last week at the school farm on the northeast corner of Louise Avenue and Airport Way behind the district office also would have witnessed the Holt of California tractor company donating a little of their hay to the effort – 50 tons.

The “Veggie Express” activity was in full swing evidence by four students working their hoes in the row crops that they sell to restaurants as well as to area families.  The students are growing everything from carrots and lettuce to chives, watermelons, tomatoes, parsley, zucchini and Cilantro – a Mexican parsley used in burritos. They get to pocket what they clear after covering expenses. The process requires them to market, plan, establish work scheduled and do the work.

The kids working on the farm projects must have no grade less than a “B” to take part in what is defined as a working valley farm. While, granted, it is on a small scale compared to producing farms in the area the experience for the students is remarkable.    

The mountain of hay was donated to the farm last week by the Holt of California Agricultural Division. It is hay they had planted early in November on their property in French Camp.

Holt’s Jeff Wallior and Bill George were on the farm Thursday telling how the crop was planted in planning to utilize the acreage as an equipment training ground for their Ag sales team and its operators.

Just last month the hay was harvested, dried, and baled for the Manteca school district farm.  

“We are pleased to help the Manteca Unified School Farm with this spring harvest,” George said.

Ryan Costa, who serves as the Ag Coordinator and MUSD School Farm Instructor said he greatly appreciated the donation that he said was worth about $5,000.

There are some 1,000 high school students working on their projects at the Louise Avenue and Airport Way acreage located behind the school district offices.

The school district has been involved with Holt of California for several years in association with the Think Big training development program.  It is a program that is a collaboration between CAT dealers and the San Joaquin Delta College promoting the equipment industry to students as a forum for young recruits interested in a career as a future service technician with the tractor company.

Holt of California has Ag locations in Stockton, Los Banos, Yuba City, Williams and Woodland.