According to Shakespeare, parting is such sweet sorrow. This was certainly the case as we said farewell to the first class of the newly launched Agriculture Conservation Corps (ACC) program this August. In collaboration with Prince George’s County’s William S. Schmidt Outdoor Education Center, the Accokeek Foundation developed a 7-week program to introduce area youth to different aspects of agriculture, from animal husbandry to production farming, all while providing a local historical context.
Nine teens, from Gwynn Park High School and Oxon Hill High School, spent their summer vacation learning more than just farming. They learned where their food comes from and how to prepare nutritious meals using harvested ingredients, about soil nutrient management and ecology, how to be caretakers of the land, and most importantly about community. “It’s a good program for people who want to get into the science field,” tells Isaiah Nance, a student from Gwynn Park considering a major in marine biology. “I learned about different plants and how to identify the plants.” Tyler Reid, another Gwynn Park student, shares how learning to build wattle fencing and trellises helped her to think more creatively in order to shape the branches and limbs to support the growing beans and squash vines. These experiences provided an interdisciplinary perspective on agriculture and sustainability.
The ACC program will be evaluated and expanded for the 2016 season, with spring and summer sessions available for students. The Accokeek Foundation is a nonprofit education organization that stewards 200 acres of Piscataway Park in Accokeek, Maryland. Its mission is to cultivate a passion for the natural and cultural heritage of Piscataway Park and commitment to stewardship and sustainability. The ACC is one of its many educational programs that integrates environmental sustainability with history for better understanding of human’s impact on the land.