Turner Ashby High School

We arrived at Turner Ashby High School as school was starting and walked in. We saw one of the corduroy blue and gold jackets of FFA on a student, and followed it into the Ag department where we found AgEd instructor Brian Crickenberger, and classrooms abuzz with the holiday spirit, as students were fashioning christmas wreaths from the branches of evergreens. 


The coolest jackets. (Photo A. Trimbach)

After the school bells rang, and students made announcements over the school-wide speakers, we introduced ourselves to the class and started screening the first third of the documentary for an intimate class of 25. These types of classroom screenings are often wonderful, because it allows us to stop the film and have individual conversations. 


Talking to the class at Turner Ashby. (Photo A. Trimbach)

We talked about the advantages and disadvantages of industrial and grass-based agriculture. Students talked about the advantage of how commodity methods allow for our culture to raise more food on less acreage, because there are so many more animals in a small square footage. They mentioned that in winter, these animals are warmer indoors, and happier. An advantage and disadvantage is that more food can be produced by fewer people, a reality that has led to less available jobs in rural communities, and often to the consolidation of high schools and abandoned, decaying main streets. It was also mentioned- with a chuckle- by one of the young male farmers that women don't much like the smell that results from being in one of the chicken or hog barns.


Chris talks to young farmers at Turner Ashby. (Photo A. Trimbach)

 We talked about how grass-based systems are very labor intensive, and that they don't work unless you have someone who's willing and capable to take on marketing directly to a nearby chef, or folks at a weekly farmers market. 

After much good conversation, we said goodbyes, and Brian was kind enough to give handsome FFA baseball hats to the three of us. 

We had little on the calendar for the rest of the day, and decided to take an unscheduled trip out to Polyface. 

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