Milford FFA program grows with $1,000 grant

MILFORD — Growing a program takes more than seeds and soil, according to Scott Haldeman.

To help nurture the agriculture department at Milford High School, the school was one of three in Delaware chosen by Tractor Supply as “Grants for Growing” recipients last week.

Delaware FFA chapters were selected for grants based on the merit of their applications that explained how each applying chapter proposed to use the grant funding to aid their communities. While the minimum grant amount was for $500, there was no cap on the amount of funding a chapter could request for its project.

 Students Michaela Huey and Juliet Keesic prepare plants for the season. The pair plan to help keep the greenhouses running throughout the summer at Milford High School. Special to the Chronicle

Students Michaela Huey and Juliet Keesic prepare plants for the season. The pair plan to help keep the greenhouses running throughout the summer at Milford High School. Special to the Chronicle

The Milford program was granted $1,000 which Mr. Haldeman plans on using for garden supplies such as a new shed, compost tumbler, 10 pounds of fertilizer and seeds to name a few items.

The money will also help purchase a banner sign for students to take to the farmers market in Milford where they plan on selling produce grown by agriculture students.

“That’s the ultimate goal,” he said. “We want to grow produce and take it to the farmers market to sell. It’s just one more aspect of an agriculture business we can show them at the high school level.”

Milford High School’s agriculture department currently has three greenhouses and a barn maintained by students.

Last winter, Mr. Haldeman explained in the “Grants for Growing” application to Tractor Supply, the chapter also installed a large garden near the barn on school property “to enhance our plant science opportunities for students.”

The goal was to get students to the farmers market with produce. They didn’t make it last year and have since made revisions to the garden and how it operates.

“The chapter grant will fund additional equipment and materials to achieve this vision,” he also stated in the application. “Weed barriers will assist with the ongoing problems of weeds we encounter in a new garden plot. The sprinkler system with 100foot hose will replace the current watering system of hand watering the garden. The compost tumbler, fertilizer and hand spreader will enhance our soil fertility for better yield.”

Students from other departments will help build the shed and create marketing materials for the agriculture students, Mr. Haldeman said.

Two students, Juliet Keesic and Michaela Huey, have agreed to help run the garden over the summer with the assistance of other students. The pair will use the project as supervised agriculture experience, an element needed towards FFA degrees achievable at the state and national levels.

Mr. Haldeman said the grant money will go far in helping the girls and their fellow students achieve success throughout the year.

Tractor Supply’s Senior Vice President of Marketing Christi Korzekwa said, “The response to our first national ‘Grants for Growing’ has been very positive and is a meaningful way to provide critical funding to FFA members who want to make a difference in their communities.”

Jennifer Antonik can be reached at mc@newszap.com

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.