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Middle schoolers will be able to grow — and even eat — their own strawberries, thanks to local development funds from state senators

BUCKHANNON – Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School received a donation this week that will help them construct a high tunnel to grow their own strawberries.

Senators Robert Karnes and Bill Hamilton presented a check for $7,682 from local economic development funds to B-UMS on Tuesday, Dec. 5. B-UMS teacher Kandi Plymale said this project has been in the works for about one year.

“This has been a process since the very beginning of the year, and we are happy to announce that it is going to happen,” Plymale said. “For the people who may not know what a high tunnel is, it’s a small version or a different version of a greenhouse. We’re excited. I appreciate you all, and I hope this helps bring Strawberry Festival closer to home.”

Upshur County Schools Assistant Superintendent Russ Collett said the process has required a lot of planning, but it’s been worth the effort.

“We’re very proud of the administration and the support that we’ve gotten from everyone in the community, and we hope this is a great example of what’s important, especially in this town,” Collett said. “Upshur County is not just a regular county; you guys are known for taking care of each other, so this is one more way we can give back – by trying to help get projects like this for you, so we’re proud of you, and we’re proud of this whole project, and we look forward to getting it done.”

Karnes said he came from a generation that cultivated their own gardens, and he was glad students would be able to experience the same thing.

“I think seeing the stuff coming out of the ground and then being able to eat the fruit of your own labor is great,” Karnes said. “We have a festival here in Upshur County, the Strawberry Festival, and knowing this is going to help contribute to something that already gives so much to Upshur County shows what a great project this is, and I’m really happy to be a part of it.”

B-UMS Principal Samantha Leput said all students at B-UMS can participate in growing the strawberries, but they do have an agriculture career class, and the cooks at the middle school will also be allowed to use the strawberries in the cafeteria. Leput said the high tunnel is already ordered, and they hope it will arrive next week.

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