Sussex school fights to keep agriculture class
Department of Education will not guarantee its survival
Sussex Regional High School is one of the last schools in the province to offer an agriculture course but local teachers admit the class is under threat of being cancelled by the provincial government.
Since the late 1970s, Sussex Regional High school has been one of the few schools in the province teaching an agriculture course.
Last June, Danny Reiker, a teacher at the school, said he was told the course would be cancelled.
After phone calls and letters, the provincial government approved the course for one more year.
On Thursday, students unveiled a garden they built which they hope will encourage the provincial government to change its mind and allow the course to continue.
"The province thought maybe we would, change Agriculture 12-0 into an environmental science unit, maybe a couple week unit," he said.
"And what we are aiming at here in Sussex is to show our students, to show other students down the road, that agriculture is really more important than really having a couple weeks into it."
One reason why the teachers say this program works so well is how affordable it is for the school to deliver.
The tractor used in the course was donated by a local company and the shovels were given by the local Co-op.
And now with their own garden, the school doesn’t have to pay to go on field trips to farms anymore.
Reiker said if the garden does catch on, he has plans to include the school’s shop class in building a new garden shed. And he said the cafeteria could one day serve food grown by its own students.
But those plans can only come to fruition if the course is allowed to continue.
So far, the Department of Education says it has made no decisions on the course’s future.
'There should be a focus on food'
David Wolpin, 23, has almost three hectares of land to farm and a market to sell his produce.
He said he hopes people, especially younger people, become as passionate as he is about locally grown food.
Wolpin has helped the high school launch the garden project and he said he hopes the school is able to continue the agriculture course.
"Every student, like I said, there should be a focus on food because that's the most important thing in life because you can't survive without food," he said.
"So I don't understand how we can grow up and not learn about food at all."
While mining has become a major employer in recent years, the town of 4,300 people has historically been known as a farming community.
Students at the Sussex school did their best to show off their farming roots earlier this year by making a parody video that went viral on the internet.
The three teens produced a four-minute video called From Sussex and I know it. They said they wanted to show off their hometown.