Meridianville Middle students show off their green thumbs thanks to AAMU joint project

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – Meridianville Middle School and Alabama A&M celebrated the official unveiling of the FEAST Project on Thursday. The acronym stands for “Fostering Environmental and Agricultural Scientists for Tomorrow.”

The joint effort between the middle school and AAMU’s College of Agricultural, Life and Natural Sciences aims to expose local students to the scientific aspects of agriculture.

“I’ve learned a lot this year,” said seventh grader Rodridguez Stuckey. “I didn’t know it was going to be that hard. I thought you just get dirt, plant it and done. We come out here mostly every day to get work done.”

Students began working in the garden in October thanks to a $25,000 donation from Monsanto and a $10,000 donation from Madison County Commissioner Roger Jones. Local farmers also contributed soil and crops, while AAMU donated land and a greenhouse.

“They are so supportive of reaching out to these students,” said Meridianville Middle Life Science teacher Shannon Moore.

Moore’s seventh graders spent the school year cultivating their garden from the ground up.

“I helped do the raised beds because some of these people do not know how to use a drill,” said Stuckey.

He also helped to spread mulch throughout the garden.

“I’ve mostly planted the strawberries and eaten the strawberries, too,” said seventh grader Bailey Flynn. “I’ve worked a lot in the front area planting bushes.”

In addition to various fruits and vegetables, the students planted shrubberies and more than 80 trees throughout the property. The outdoor lab will also enable the students to collect data and perform experiments.

“It feeds into the real-world, out-of-the-textbook science that we’re supposed to be teaching them,” said Moore. “You can fold from DNA all the way into biochemistry into this one project.”

Ultimately, this hands-on project not only excites the students to learn, but it also nurtures their connection to their food.

“It’s better to know where it comes from,” said Stuckey. “And it tastes really good.”