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Cornerstone Christian Academy Students Help Out Local Farm’s Composting Quest

Photo Provided – Children from Cornerstone Christian Academy marched from the Beech Bottom school to the Beech Bottom Municipal Building with bags of leaves they gathered for local farmer Eric Freeland after he spoke to them about using leaves for compost.

BEECH BOTTOM – After a local farmer spoke to them about principles of gardening, children at Cornerstone Christian Academy applied what they learned to helping him.

Michelle Skocz, administrator of the private Christian school, said Eric Freeland recently spoke to the children for about an hour on the importance of good soil in cultivating the variety of produce on his Windsor Heights farm.

Freeland said Karen Cox, agricultural agent with the Ohio County West Virginia University Extension Service, aided him in preparing a PowerPoint presentation on the basics of farming.

While many trees were shedding their leaves, he noted that so many are bagged and transported to landfills when they could be used as compost for gardens.

“That’s such a wonderful commodity for a guy like me,” said Freeland, whose farm was named the Northern Panhandle Soil Conservation District’s Farm of the Year.

Skocz said Freeland spoke of other things that can be used to fertilize soil, from banana peels to egg shells, and the children became very excited about gathering things for composting.

Soon a compost barrel was established for a planned future garden at the school, and the children filled many bags with leaves from the school’s grounds.

Older pupils carried the bags from the former Beech Bottom Primary School, where Cornerstone opened this year, to the Beech Bottom Municipal Building a few blocks away, where they were added to many others.

Mayor Becky Uhlly said the effort expanded to include residents in the village, resulting in the collection of 75 large bags of leaves.

She said Freeland approached her about involving the community in a project that became known as Feed the Farm.

“He called and wanted to know if he could have our leaves, and I said yes,” recalled Uhlly, who said having grown up a country girl, she knows the value of compost.

“They (the leaves) really do feed the dirt,” she said.

Uhlly said it was a nice way to help a local farm that supplies an assortment of food, including berries, potatoes, corn and tomatoes.

“His farm gives us great fruit and vegetables through much of the year, so I thought it would be nice to help him out,” she said.

She noted the village purchased transparent bags for the residents to fill with leaves so they wouldn’t be mistaken for other garbage.

Skocz, who is a Beech Bottom native, said the project supported the school’s efforts to teach the children about nature and community service.

Freeland said he hopes in the spring the children can visit his farm, which has been in his family since the 1800s.

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