ISS students’ produce available at Summer Farm Stand

INDIAN SPRINGS VILLAGE – Indian Springs School’s weekly Summer Farm Stand offers residents fresh organic vegetables and students an opportunity to learn about gardening and other important lessons.

Bob Pollard teaches ninth grade biology at ISS, and a unit includes students growing vegetables in 4-by-12-foot raised garden beds as they are learning about sustainable agriculture in the classroom.

“At the end of the school year as things, hopefully, come to fruition, I bring in a Coleman two-burner stove and teach them how to stir-fry,” Pollard said. “They love that part.”

The garden produces broccoli, kale, squash, sweet potatoes and more that is used in the school’s dining hall.

During the school year, four students work five hours a week for minimum wage to help harvest vegetables.

During the summer, the students work 25 hours a week, and the vegetables are sold at a stand adjacent to the garden.

“They get a lot of good experience because most of them have never worked on a farm before,” Pollard said.

The Summer Farm Stand is open from noon until 6 p.m. each Friday in June and July.

This week’s offerings include squash, zucchini, a variety of greens, radishes, peppers, green beans, fresh eggs, herbs, heirloom tomatoes and more.

All of the produce is organic.

In addition to familiar produce, the Summer Farm Stand at times also offers lesser-known varieties such as flying saucer squash and burgundy okra.

Pollard said the students gain experience and confidence dealing with the public as they offer information about the vegetables and tips on how to prepare them.

ISS veggies used to be hauled to the Pepper Place market in Birmingham, but Pollard said he decided several years ago to try selling from the campus’ outdoor classroom, which is a 150-year-old Amish barn that was transported from Pennsylvania.

Customers include local residents and alumni.

“We have a pretty faithful clientele,” Pollard said and added that the heirloom tomatoes are the favorites.

Fresh eggs are a new addition this year, and Pollard hopes to have honey available next summer.

Proceeds from the stand are used to pay the students’ salaries, and go back into the program.

“It’s more of a teaching tool for the school,” Pollard said.