Fresno kids learning life lessons through hands-on farming

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Hiding in the heart of an old southwest Fresno neighborhood is a small plot of hope. The kids walking through the corn stalks, and the vines are the hands who grew the crops from scratch. (KFSN)

Kids in West Fresno are growing farms and futures.

Hiding in the heart of the old southwest Fresno neighborhood is a small plot of hope. The kids walking through the corn stalks, and the vines are the hands who grew the crops from scratch.

"We've been growing the plants now for about two months," Laila Else from Freedom School said.

This urban farm at the Freedom School serves several purposes. The students take pride in delivering the final product to guests, and they're selling boxes to raise money for their school.

But the whole process involves math and even writing. They kept journals as they learned how to measure seeds or fertilizer or the yield, and those are skills they can use to build careers in or out of agriculture.

"We're the engineers of farming," Dr. Floyd Harris with the school said. "And farming today is not just about chopping weeds. There's a lot of science to it."

Harris says the farm also helps reconnect African-American families with skills many of their ancestors had before even coming to the United States.

And as they see or eat the results of their work, they say the kids can slowly peel away a stigma. But some of the best stigma busting may come on the dinner table.

They've learned to prepare the food they grew, venturing as far as to make pizza out of eggplants.

"I wouldn't have even thought to try it. It sounded nasty to me," student Qyerra Goree said. "I was like, 'I'm not eating it.' And then I ate it, and I was like, 'Oh, this is good.'"

The kids aren't done learning when the food reaches their own tables though. They've also learned to promote their work. Their relish won first prize at Fresno Fair, their tomato pie won second place. So, this crop will be up for awards in October.

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