Photo by Stan Bindell.
POLACCA, Ariz. — A greenhouse and orchard at Hopi High School has been resurrected by Arlinda Fannin, botany teacher at Hopi High School.
Fannin landed at Hopi High last year from her home state of Kentucky and had the greenhouse fully operational, teaching the students how to grow fruits and vegetables. The greenhouse was not operational during the summer because it was too hot.
But now the greenhouse has been cleaned up and all the pumps are working.
Fannin said the goal for students is to learn about plants and agriculture. Three of her five classes are botany and 62 students are working on the greenhouse and orchard.
“Students learn where food comes from. They learn that they can be self-independent and this could be a career path,” she said. “There is good money to be made in this profession; more money than people need to sustain themselves.”
Last year, students grew leafy greens, tomatoes, peppers and carrots from seed in the greenhouse. One student paid for his own seeds so he was able to sell what he grew at a Farmer’s Market.
Fannin was raised on a farm in Kentucky and knows how to can fruits and is doing so with peaches and apples off the street. She lives in Hopi High housing.
“I miss the farm. We grew our own crops. We had our own animals and we did our own canning,” she said.
Fannin is planning a small aquaponics lab which will include fish and have plants growing in the water without seed.
Fannin said another goal is to get native plants and have the students raise them from seeds or propagation.
“Invasive species outcompete the native plants and kills them out,” she said.
Fannin hopes to bring in a speaker well-versed in native plants and their cultural relevancy.
“Kids can bring in Hopi corn and beans if they want,” she said.
Fannin said the orchard is almost 100 percent operational.
“All the weeds are gone. The drippers on the hose were moved up so they could lineup with the trees,” she said.
The orchard has about 50 trees, either apples or peaches.
“The goal is to expand and get more trees,” she said. “If we get seedlings we can put them in the orchard or the greenhouse.”
Fannin plans to work with the National Wildlife Federation to put in native plants and work on terracing the orchard.
Fannin’s students are also working on a garden behind the greenhouse.
Fannin earned two Bachelor’s degrees in biology and geology from Moorhead State. She also earned an MA in biology from Moorhead State.
Fannin said the botany program could use donations of seeds or manure. To donate, contact Fannin at Hopi High School (928) 738-5111.