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Urban Farm School holds ceremony for graduates

(L to R) Victor Jones, Milgo Floyd, Michael Banner and Taundra White pose for a photo during the graduation ceremony for the Urban Farm School. The 12-week course is designed to help gardeners learn how urban farms can improve food security for Winston-Salem neighborhoods.

Urban Farm School holds ceremony for graduates
June 09
10:00 2016

Photo by Tevin Stinson

BY TEVIN STINSON 

THE CHRONICLE

In light of recent concerns over access to healthy foods, the Forsyth County Cooperative Extension designed a course to help gardeners learn how urban farms can improve food security for Winston-Salem neighborhoods.

Collaboration with the Ministers’ Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity (MCWSV), city officials, the Urban Farm School (UFS) is for individuals who want to learn more about urban food production and marketing. Last Thursday, June 2, UFS held its first graduation ceremony for those in the area who completed the course.

During the 12-week course, Taundra White, Michael Banner, Milgo Floyd, and Victor “Vic” Jones, learned everything there is to know about growing and maintaining a successful garden in an urban setting. From soil preparation, crop selection and irrigation, to pest management, the students in the pilot course said after completing the course they learned that being a farmer requires you to wear many different hats, including being a carpenter, an electrician and even a plumber. Along with attending lecture and lab classes, students also spent additional time working the land provided by the city on the corner of 22nd Street and Cleveland Avenue, in the heart of the East Winston community.

White, a former make-up artist, said although she was making good money helping women with their make-up, she decided to take the course because she felt the need to do more to help improve the quality of life of people in the community.

“I am a great artist, but that is not what they need.” she continued. “They are hungry and suffering from malnutrition. I could look at their skin and listen to their conversations and tell that was the real issue.”

“I was charged then to step away and do something different to help my people,” White said.

After receiving his certificate of completion, city native Michael Banner said he got into agriculture when his wife was pregnant with his first daughter more than seven years ago. He mentioned, “I am determined to provide healthy foods for my family and this entire community.

“We are defying the odds and it feels great,” said Banner. “I’m built for it and my classmates are built for it.”

Milgo Floyd said he is humbled by the fact that the city would help start a program that will help address concerns over access to food. Floyd also mentioned the job opportunities the program will bring to a community in dire need.

Victor “Vic” Jones encouraged everyone in the community to spread the word about UFS and the work they are doing to improve the lives of residents in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County.

“I hope everyone in Winston-Salem visits the garden and helps spread the word because we are in need in this community,” Jones said.

During his keynote address, MCWSV president Bishop Todd Fulton, who played a major role in acquiring the land used for farming, encouraged the graduating students to return to their past in order to move forward in the future.

“The first job ever created was farming. Our ancestors were brought here and enslaved to be farmers. We are the original farmers,” said Fulton. “They did an excellent job, so I encourage you today to return to your past so that we can move our community forward.”

Before leaving the podium, Fulton said, “Get your phones out, take a picture of these Urban Farm School graduates.

“These are farmers that you should know. They are going to be ranked among the top 10 urban farmers in the country.”

According to Forsyth County Cooperative Extension agent Mary Jac Brennan, future courses will include aquaponics-hydroponics, landscape gardening, and value-added product development. UFS will also offer a market gardening course in the fall.

For more information, contact Pastor Tembila Covington at 336-703-2859 or by email at cov-ingtc@nullforsyth.cc.com. 

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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