Classroom “Produces” Results

Jeremy Angotti weighs produce from classroom garden efforts.

When a local high school agriculture teacher was left with an abundance of corn from his students’ crops, he turned to Southeast Missouri Food Bank.

Jeremy Angotti is a farmer and ag teacher for Portageville High School. When Angotti started teaching in 2018, the superintendent told him about a grant from Bayer that his predecessor used. The grant provides school ag programs with the resources to plant and tend to various crops throughout the year.

After doing looking into it, Angotti applied and was awarded the grant in 2020. Agnotti and his students decided to call the grant program “Greens for Grades.”

After receiving the grant, Angotti and his students planting various seedlings in their lab. After the seedlings sprouted high enough, they were transferred to a greenhouse to finish growing.

One of the items Angotti wanted to grow were tomatoes, but there was an issue. Tomatoes wouldn’t be able to grow in the greenhouse because of lack of pollinators from bees. To fix that, Agnotti decided to purchase bee pollen because he remembered his mother feeding it to him as a kid to fight off his allergies. Along with his students, Angotti crushed up the pollen and used box fans to dust the tomato plants in the greenhouse.

“That was the only solution I could come up with and knock on wood, it’s worked,” Angotti said.

After having success with the tomatoes, Angotti decided the next thing to be planted was corn. 

“I told the kids, ‘We are going to grow sweet corn,’” Angotti said. “We all sat down and figured out the calendar days and what it would take.”

Corn seeds and nitrogen were donated for the crop.

“One of the main lessons for the students was not only a crop science lesson but an ag lesson as far as doing the plan, setting the planter, if something tears up, how do we fix it, stuff like that,” Angotti said.

Angotti planned for the corn to be planted by mid-March, but rain delays pushed the planting to April 15. Cold snaps then slowed down the growing process. The corn was finally harvested on July 3.

With the majority of his students away on holiday, Angotti and his own children harvested the corn, then sold what they could for a Future Farmers of America fundraiser.

But Agnotti still had corn after selling all he could for the fundraiser. In 2020, he had donated a load of produce to Reaching All In Need, one of the food bank’s partner agencies in Portageville.

“I talked to the kids and they were fine with selling the corn and raising money for community projects to help the school, but they were more interested in donating it to the food bank and pantries,” Angotti said.

When he reached out to R.A.I.N. again about donating the corn, he was told he had missed the regular monthly donation, but was referred to SEMO Food Bank. After speaking to the food bank, a time and date was arranged for the corn to be delivered to the food bank’s warehouse in Sikeston.

Angotti is hopeful to continue his partnership with Bayer and SEMO Food Bank.

“Bayer has continued to contribute and they have just been really good to our school so we are going to try to continue this in the future,” Angotti said. “Hopefully, I’ll be back with more produce to donate as well.”

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