From strawberries to corn to cilantro, the Natural Resource Academy students at Harlingen High School have a variety of fruits, vegetables, and herbs in their garden.
“Agriculture plays a critical role in our society,” agricultural science teacher Andres Gonzalez said. “It is the backbone of us, of everything that we do. Here at HHS, our students design and develop techniques that provide them the skills that they need to pursue a career in agriculture.”
In early May, students, staff, and administrators came together to celebrate the ribbon cutting of a new greenhouse.
“We’ve had greenhouses in the past, but as we were watching this program evolve, we recognized that the greenhouse that was here was not going to meet the needs,” Superintendent Dr. Alicia Noyola said. “Mr. Gonzalez I just want to thank you because this does not happen by accident. Students may want to do it, but unless you have a teacher who champions it, and moves it forward, it doesn’t happen. So, I want to thank you for all the work that you have done. I am super excited at the opportunities that the greenhouse is going to create for this program.”
Gonzalez identified each plant and tree in the garden, sharing details about each one.
“So, we have a little bit of everything here,” Gonzalez said. “We are trying to create a food forest, and everything does have a purpose. We have seven different kinds of peppers, from tabasco to scorpion, that the culinary arts students use to make salsas.”
He went on to explain how the systems in the greenhouse worked before giving a tour.
“In the back, we have our misters that just hydrate everything whereas in the front we have bigger more stabilized plants that can already handle water. We also have two aquaponics systems. The one in the front has bass. In the back, we do have our goldfish. We have over 100 goldfish. We are also starting to grow our own mushrooms. In the middle pillar, you will see the mushroom in the center. It requires high humidity which is why it is between the two aquaponic systems.”
The Natural Resource Academy at HCISD allows students the opportunity to explore plant science and animal science.
“We learn a lot of stuff from these plants,” Harlingen High School junior Evelyn Quesada said. “I like plants a lot. I have plants at home, and I use the methods he has taught us. I grow my own avocados. I even grow mulberry. This greenhouse really improved my green thumb, and his class also improved my skills for planting. One of the things I enjoy the most is irrigation because you get to see the plants come back to life. I did get to see the whole process of building this greenhouse, and it’s really nice in here.”
The natural resource students work closely with the culinary arts students to use the produce that they are growing.
“I am working in collaboration with culinary arts to grow a lot of the stuff that they will be using in their classes next year,” Gonzalez said. “My kids plant it; her kids cook it.”