HRA Ruby Grow Offers Students Hands On Tips For Growing & Selling Produce
On May 4th, Allegheny Mountain Radio had a chance to participate in the Career Day at Pocahontas County High School and we had a great time talking to the kids and other businesses. Afterwards, as the kids were stacking chairs and taking down tables, I caught up with Casey Withers, Farm Manager for High Rocks Academy, who told me about the Ruby Grow program.
“The Ruby Grow program is run through High Rocks and it started in 2020,” said Withers. “The name comes from Ruby Burns, it’s in honor of her and the main growing site is in Hillsboro. Mainly, it’s just a market garden that we try to provide a service to the community by growing more fresh food and along the way having part-time paid opportunities for young people to help out with that project. There’s also Americorps members through High Rocks that help with that project.”
“What kind of skills are these kids learning?”
“It’s a little bit of a mixed bag,” he said. “We do try to hit on business planning, and selling and marketing products, and you have kind of a classic agricultural education that we go through, essentially doing the work we need to do to grow the food; starting seeds, growing transplants, transplanting those, growing and maintaining a garden, customer service [and] being able to sell the products. Hopefully a lot of skills people can take with them when they leave this position.”
“What kind of plants are you guys growing?”
“That’s also a mixed bag, but it’s a pretty good of crops at this point,” said Casey. “Most of the things that we will have will be garlic, onions, potatos, tomatos, peppers, cucumbers, so a pretty good bit of diffenent things, radishes, beets, carrots, leafy greens.”
“Where do you sell your products?”
“It is mainly through the Pocahontas County Farmers Markets and we also sell internally to other High Rocks program; the Hub Café in Lewisburg, the High Rocks Academy and summer camps. We’ve been able to sell a little big of food to the FRN [Family Resource Network] pantry and Pocahontas County schools. We’d like to continue to do that, trying to get more fresh food into places that maybe don’t see a lot of fresh food all the time.”
“If anybody was interested in participating in Ruby Grow, they could reach out to High Rocks and reach out to myself. My email is email@example.com.”
You may also call 304-653-4891 or find the Ruby Grow section on their website, www.highrocks.org and apply online. Casey says there’s no deadline.
“We’re taking applications and looking to hire people as soon as they’re ready to start work. We’ll have opportunities throughout the summer and fall as well.”