Paxton Ag

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Emerging SeedlingYou’ve gotta start somewhere, and that’s what Paxton Agriculture middle school students are learning how to do. 6th-8th graders are learning how to start from seed, nurture seedlings, plant in the field, and sell plants and produce. It’s part of our overall experience plan for the students. We don’t hold anything back so they can see the true costs of being a farmer as well as the profitability of making it a career. Our focus for middle school is on plants while they will gain more experience with turf management, animals, and farm equipment when they get into high school. Susie McDaniel leads the charge with voluntary help from Grow and Eat It founder, Dave Palmer, the Walton County Florida Extension Office (IFAS), Farm Bureau, Master Gardeners, and others. Together we are working to ensure that some of these young people will continue on to a future in farming. Hashtags #paxtonag and #growingourfuture help us document our progress online and share with our community what we are doing in the Paxton Agricultural Department.

Girls and SeedlingsAgricultural education is more crucial now than ever before as population increases exponentially while the average age of farmers also increases. There are less new farmers entering the workforce, but the worldwide demands for food supply is steadily climbing. As our society in the US becomes less agrarian, we must find ways to use technological advances and train these young men and women to do more with less in terms of production and space. Paxton, FL has the longest running program for agricultural education in our county, and until 2017 (when Freeport added Ag back into its curriculum followed by Walton Middle in 2018), it was the last remaining agriculture program in Walton County, FL.

Watering TableGrowing our future is exactly what we are doing following in the footsteps of agricultural education great like John E. Baldwin, Odon Russell, Joe Raspberry, and others who laid the groundwork for the program at Paxton. The modern version of the program strives to integrate the best aspects of the educators before us, and add new methods and information that have become a part of agriculture in the present and future. The future is indeed bright, and we will one day rely on these future farmers to harness the power and information to keep us fed.