In coming weeks at the 56th Avenue CAS farm, the Thomadora andLincoln Elementary 4-H clubs will begin planting their 7,200-square-foot plotsfor potatoes. Later this spring, early Head Start staff will sow pumpkin seeds. 

The Nickerson school district also has a plotand there are seven 900-square-foot spaces for anyone who wants to rent thespace.

About 60,000 square feet of the more than200,000 square feet at the Community Agricultural Site farm is being used forgardening because of watering limitations, said Reno County Master GardenerDavid Buckley. Someday, the group would like to drill another well to maximizethe space.

"Maybe it is not a stretch to call itproduction agriculture," said CAS President Allan Engle. "It teachesthem that food comes from places other than the grocery store and that someonehas to grow it, that it takes a lot of hard work."

Growing vegetables, however, is just oneaspect of CAS, which Reno County Health Educator Katie Ross calls a complexprogram.

The program also helps educate young peopleand adults about nutrition, along with where their food comes from, she said.Another education component is having students participate in research throughKansas State University at the site. For the past few years, students havetracked and measured the progress of new varieties of vegetables for K-State'sresearch.

Students sold their bounty, giving them alesson in entrepreneurship, too.

Meanwhile, Ross manages CAS' Veggie Buckssector. In lieu of rent, the 4-H clubs and the school districts donate 20percent of their crop/sales to the Veggie Bucks program, Ross said. Funds fromvegetable sales then can be used to purchase fruits and vegetables fororganizations in need and individuals who qualify.

This year, CAS will have a farmers market onSaturdays where the public can come and purchase items, Ross said.

CAS also is using the area as a learningcenter, with upcoming Saturday classes on power tilling, landscaping andmanaging water resources, Buckley said.

Moreover, for the kids, it's a lesson inagriculture, Engle said.

"It teaches some of those kids, like myson, who are not that close to the farm. It gives them some perspective."