Monache’s Farm Seeing Many Improvements

Monache FFA seniors Morgan McCullar and Casey Beyerbach work in the school’s one-acre garden of winter vegetables, which will be sold at the Monache Farmer’s Market on March 4. /Nancy Vigran

Over the past couple years at Monache (High School), we are proud of the growth and expansion of our school farm. The farm has come to support a swine breeding enterprise, vegetable plot, and a poultry egg layer enterprise, additions to the swine facility, as well a new sheep building to house market lambs for the Porterville Fair. Plans are in the works to put in a brand new greenhouse for the Ornamental Horticulture department.

All these different programs are almost exclusively managed and run by the students of the Monache FFA Chapter. With a membership of over 400 high school students led by the officer team, three advisors and a great FFA Booster and Ag Advisory Board, the Monache FFA Chapter is proud of the success of its members.

The biggest improvement on the farm is the cultivation of the vegetable plot. A couple of years ago there was around an acre of land that just sat and grew weeds. Starting in the 2015-2016 school year. Monache FFA started planting, growing and selling vegetables grown right on the farm. Using drip irrigation lines along with the row cropping style of farming we have succeeded in turning this acre of unused land into a cornucopia of beautiful organically grown vegetables. The variety of vegetables includes multiple cauliflower specialty varieties, cabbage and broccoli.

Students and advisors are excited about the reconstruction of the greenhouse. The plans are in the works to install a brand new facility. Currently, the Ornamental Horticulture facility is used to propagate flowers, plants, succulents and citrus trees for the various classes on campus. The students also enjoy the newly-implemented Floral Design class, where students have created arrangements for various community events, as well as campus faculty.

Another improvement to the farm is the breeding program for the swine project. In the past two years there have been two litters of piglets. This year the students were able to help with the farrowing of the piglets and castration process. Next year, the FFA chapter is hoping to improve to having three sows farrow instead of just one.

In addition to improving the pig program, the poultry and sheep departments have also made great improvements. Before, sheep program students could not keep their sheep on campus, but with the construction of a new barn they are now able to keep them here. The chicken barn although not new, had an inside renovation and added a layer project to provide the school’s Culinary Arts program with eggs for their classes.

These improvements have made Monache FFA’s school farm one of the best in the county, especially for the small space it’s allotted.

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