Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Hands on at the `Pizza Farm'

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Hands on at the `Pizza Farm'

Article excerpt

Jerald Ashby, co-owner of the Route 66 Traders Market west of Yukon, plans to give children a hands-on education experience unlike any other: tours of a "pizza farm."

Scheduled to open May 11, the pizza farm is a one-acre exhibit that illustrates how the ingredients used to make pizza make the jump from the garden and the barnyard to the dinner plate.

Few children have seen any of the plants they eat before they reach a supermarket, and the pizza farm will help them understand that process better, Ashby said. He noted that many children have only a fleeting familiarity with the agricultural process.

"Not everybody has seen cotton and seen how it grows," he noted. "Now they may have seen it from a distance, meaning on the highway driving by at 70 miles per hour, but they've really not seen the cotton boll and seen how it blossoms and so forth and how it feels like."

Planting is under way at the farm, which encompasses about one acre. The "pizza" is about 150 feet in diameter with two sets of walkways that crisscross the "slices" and a walkway surrounds the exterior perimeter.

Each slice is fenced off and dedicated to a separate ingredient of pizza -- such as wheat, tomatoes, basil, onions, pigs, and cattle.

"We will be adding, as the years go by, more animals," Ashby said.

He said goats might be among the first additions made to give children a hands-on experience "like in a petting zoo."

"They will be able to see and have hands on all of the animals," Ashby said.

Children will also be able to pick some of the ripe vegetables, such as tomatoes.

Ashby said the pizza farm would slowly add other plants as well, including cocoa bean plants -- used to make chocolate for the dessert "pizzas" served at some establishments.

The acre is watered through drip irrigation -- a process that saves water while still providing plants with enough moisture for survival. …

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