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FEATURES ARCHIVE

GROWING A BETTER TOMATO, RIGHT INSIDE A HIGH SCHOOL CLASSROOM

Was a tomato part of your dinner tonight? It's one of the most common staples on the American dinner plate, and chances are that in the future you may be buying a tomato that was, at least in part, designed by high school students in Rowan County.Fresh tomatoes are hard to beat, but they aren't in the fields around here just yet. But you can find them, ripe and ready to be picked in this high school classroom.Dr. Jeremy Pattison is from North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Research Campus. He's working with the agricultural class at South Rowan High School taught by David Overcash. And Wednesday was harvest day."We took them from the seed and grew them all the way as you can see here," agriculture student Haley Shore told WBTV.Students like Haley aren't just picking tomatoes, they're expanding the knowledge of how to grow a better crop. Students are involved in a learning experience that takes them beyond their textbooks. Instead of reading about scientific trials on agricultural research, they are actually performing the trials themselves, with oversight from N.C. State University faculty member Pattison, with the Plants for Human Health Institute at the N.C. Research Campus in Kannapolis. Four schools in Rowan County – South Rowan, West Rowan, Jesse Carson and East Rowan – are growing tomatoes as part of the research trial. The project also ties in with the growing interest in local foods.