New greenhouses will soon mean fresh produce for Unicoi County students.

Cutting the ribbon on new green houses was just the first reward for the Unicoi County agriculture students.

"When we first came, it was hard to visualize it looking like this. Now it's hard to visualize all the plants and everything in there," student Victoria Bailey said.

This is her first year in the agriculture program, but she's already learning the value of a little sweat. After receiving the space as a donation from Farm Credit, students have been preparing for their first crops.

"There was like tables in there with cinder blocks, and we had to move all the cinder blocks out, and all this was really dirty, we had to sweep a bunch," Bailey added.

Their work is far from over. They still have beds to plant and an entire irrigation system to move.

Their teacher, Lucas Anders, said these tasks will set the stage for growing to begin this week. The produce will eventually supplement lunch items for the school system.

"Having a huge percentage of either free or reduced lunch students, we wanted to be able to use our high school students to affect generations," Anders said.

That incentive helps students like Ben Williams see the value in their work.

"It makes us feel good to say we have a part in what we eat," Williams said.

The program even has expert taste-testers on hand to make sure they are growing the right products.

"We're going to try to grow a few varieties of tomatoes, and then if we can just get one bushel of tomatoes to take to an elementary school to let the kids try it to get their feedback," Anders said.
"[We'll] do a little sensory panel to see which tomato do the students like the best."

The new projects make students excited about a "fresh" start.

"It makes us feel good to say we have a part in what we eat," Williams said.

Unicoi County's agriculture program raises money through donations and selling flowers grown during the year.

Their new greenhouse will be divided into different sections, so items can grow during off-seasons.