Learning how to harvest, maintain, produce and store vegetables sounds like a cumbersome task for any busy Auburn University student, but through a course on vegetable production, Beth Westmoreland says that learning these principles in order to put them into practice post-college is actually pretty fun.
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Vegetable production is an entertaining yet useful class taught by Dr. Wheeler Foshee in the horticulture department of the College of Agriculture.
Westmoreland, junior in food science, is enrolled in vegetable production because it is a professional elective in her curriculum.
“I had heard great things about the professor, Dr. Foshee, and great things about this class, so I wanted to take it,” said Westmoreland. “I heard it would be a welcome change to the hard workload that many students have, but I really have gotten so much out of it.”
In this course, students learn how to grow, care for and market commercial vegetable crops, but Dr. Foshee’s goal is to teach students how they can grow a garden without being a professional farmer.
“Dr. Foshee’s whole purpose with the class is to teach you how to grow a home garden,” said Westmoreland. “You don’t have to be a farmer to have a home garden. You can be a teacher and have a small garden or just teach your children about it one day.”
So far, the students this semester have learned about different types of summer vegetables including corn, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini squash and eggplant.
Not only do the students learn about the vegetables and their life cycles, but also the nutrient each vegetable provides and what kind of soil each needs to survive the various climates.
Learning all about these vegetables has been a valuable experience for Westmoreland, and she has developed a greater love for her already favorite vegetable by taking this class.
“My favorite vegetable I have learned about so far is corn,” said Westmoreland. “It’s a great summer vegetable and was my favorite vegetable before this class. Corn is pretty hard to grow, but I’d want to grow corn one day if I could.”
The class is not necessarily about growing an organic garden, but it does instruct students about other methods to keep the soil and the environment at a healthy level.
“Knowing about the special pesticides that kill only bugs that attack these vegetables and make it very safe for us to eat is really neat,” she said.
Although this class is an elective for Westmoreland, she has not stopped telling her friends that they have to take this class if they can.
“I’ve already told all my friends, even if they aren't in the College of Ag, that if they have the extra space they should take this class,” said Westmoreland. “Dr. Foshee is so passionate about this class and helps us learn about things I can actually put into practice in the future.”