Roxborough high school sows the seeds of education

Hadas Kuznits
September 13, 2019 - 5:00 am
Weavers Way Co-op

Hadas Kuznits/KYW Newsradio

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) Walter B. Saul High School is quite literally planting a foundation for its students.

Kids receive a unique urban education at the agricultural school in upper Roxborough — 130 acres tucked away behind Henry Avenue on a little-known farm.

Now that school is back in session, students are getting back to studying hands-on.

"I'm really busy working at the farmers market, or I could be helping with the 'you pick' selection out there, or just helping with customers," said 17-year-old student Shayona Tyler.

Through the agricultural program, Tyler learns about food science and processing, meaning where food comes from and how it can be prepared.

Tyler, now a senior, said her first day on the farm as a freshman was a bit of a shock.

"I was like, 'Oh my gosh!' There's so much different stuff out here I've never seen or even heard of, so it's so cool," she said.

Other students focus on working with animals on the farm across the street. They can also study natural resource management or horticulture.

Tyler said working at an agricultural school changes her view on eating.

"It helps me in a lot of different ways, especially to eat healthier," she said. "We have a lot of recipes and stuff I can learn from, and also cookbooks as well," which are sold at the farmers market.

The farm, located at 7095 Henry Ave., is run by the Weavers Way Co-op.

"I get a lot of entertainment out of working with students," said Weavers farm manager Nina Berryman. "Working side-by-side with students is always interesting, whether it's weeding or transplanting or just looking at bugs and overcoming a fear of the nature that the farm is."

Weavers Way Co-op
Hadas Kuznits/KYW Newsradio

Weavers Way Co-op
Hadas Kuznits/KYW Newsradio

They grow more than 60 varieties of fruits, vegetables and herbs.

Each year, a new batch of students join the farm by day and work part-time in the market at night.

"Most of these students, this would be their first interaction with growing vegetables in the ground," added Berryman. 

She said she enjoys hearing new questions each day from her students.

"We had a class out and the whole two hours was just spent touring the farm, asking questions," she said, "and taste-testing and seeing their expressions as they tried a fresh carrot from the ground or a pepper, a sweet pepper, or a hot pepper, which was exciting and challenging. And lots of questions about, 'What is this bug? Is it a good bug or a bad bug?' Things like that."

Although students at the agricultural school spend a lot of time outdoors with plants and animals, it's still a high school like any other — especially for senior Tyler.

"I'm looking for to prom," she said. "I'm really excited."

For more on what kids can learn through agriculture, listen to the KYW Newsradio original podcast What's Cooking on the RADIO.COM app.