West Virginia Agriculture Commissioner Visits Tucker County High - WBOY.com: Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

West Virginia Agriculture Commissioner Visits Tucker County High School

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TUCKER COUNTY -

West Virginia's Commissioner of Agriculture was in Tucker County Thursday learning how agriculture and education are becoming more connected.

The demand for local products in West Virginia is growing, that's why Tucker County High School is ahead in that effort with its growing farm to school program.

State Commissioner of Agriculture Walt Helmick along with county and education officials got a tour of that perfect example.

"We wanted to showcase and tell him what's happening here in Tucker County with the local food movement. Our students for the last couple of years have been growing and producing food both in our greenhouse and on their own plots at home," said J.R. Helmick, school principal. 

The school in just two years has experienced progress. It's built a greenhouse that supplies food products for its cafeteria, and now the school is finishing work on its high tunnel technology and classroom building. All thanks to grants.

"What we've tried to do is make their buck worth its while, and we've hit the ground running. We've got a lot of students that are very interested about the local food movement, and have just jumped in there and we've worked our greenhouse, we're excited about our high tunnel and we're so amazed how fast we've grown as well," Helmick said.

County school systems spend approximately $100 million each year feeding students. The vast majority of those dollars buy goods that were produced outside of West Virginia. From examples like Tucker County, Commissioner Helmick believes that can change.

"We want to see what we can do with Tucker Countians to help grow a West Virginia product by West Virginians on West Virginia land to be consumed by West Virginians," Commissioner Helmick said.

Commissioner Helmick believes food products from local farmers or schools can help increase the amount of local foods served in local schools.

"We want to be aggressive in what we're doing and this very area is comparable to some of the areas that are now proving to be the growers of the product that we're very much interested in," Commissioner Helmick said.