CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- There was just a yard at the corner of Ohio Avenue and Washington Street West when Davis & Elkins College students showed up there Saturday. When they left, though, it was a classroom of sorts.
Students from the college's Introduction to Sustainability Studies class helped build the Sustainable Agriculture Entrepreneur Initiative classroom garden at the corner on Charleston's West Side over the weekend. The Sustainable Agriculture Entrepreneur Initiative -- or SAGE for short -- is a part of the Charleston Area Alliance's Vision 2030 program.
"It was one big rectangle of grass yesterday," said Russ McClain, director of the Center for Sustainability Studies at the college.
Fifty to 60 percent of McClain's class focused on the design and construction of the "micro-farm," he said.
"The students need a little nudge, but this was their project," he said.
In January, the garden classroom will be where participants in the SAGE initiative plant and grow their produce, which they will then sell to local food suppliers.
Participants in the program, which will include 12 agriculture classes in urban micro-farming and six courses in entrepreneurship, will decide what produce to grow in the space.
The aim of the SAGE is that the students, on their own, will be able to replicate the techniques they learn during the class and that other communities will be able to implement similar programs.
"This is a 'teach-a-man-to-fish' program," said Kelly Crane, a contract worker for the Charleston Area Alliance. "Hopefully this will seed -- pun intended -- larger economic development and community food programs."
Other partners in the program include Bullock Properties, the University of Charleston, West Virginia University Extension Service and the Kanawha Institute for Social Research & Action. The class was funded with a Campus-Community LINK grant from West Virginia Campus Compact.