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Roosevelt Academy teacher to receive award | Environment

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Roosevelt Academy teacher to receive award
Roosevelt Academy teacher to receive award

Lake Wales, FL -- Ray Cruze, an agriculture teacher at Lake Wales’ Roosevelt Academy, is one of four Florida teachers to receive a 2011 Excellence In Teaching About Agriculture Award from Florida Agriculture In The Classroom, Inc.

Cruze will be honored with three other teachers at the 2011 National Agriculture In The Classroom Conference being held June 22 to June 25 in Fort Lauderdale. 

Cruz will be honored at the April 12 Polk school board meeting for this accomplishment. 

A news release issued by Florida Agriculture In The Classroom references Cruze’s supervision of Roosevelt Farms, a student-run working farm on the Roosevelt Academy campus.

Cruz began Roosevelt Farms in 1995. Currently, Roosevelt Farms includes five greenhouses, a 10,000 square-foot traditional row-crop production garden and a 3,500-plant capacity hydroponic system. Hydroponics is growing crops in water without soil. Roosevelt Farms houses the largest vegetable production farm in Lake Wales city limits.

Roosevelt Farms currently has more than 5,200 vegetable and herb plants growing there including 3,000 onions, 1,000 bean plants, 800 tomato and pepper plants and 400 squash and cucumber plants. 

His students monitor ph levels, scout for diseases, apply nutrients and are involved with the growing from the time seeds are planted until they are eventually harvested.

Cruze’s students use the same growing methods as commercial farmers and students have access to the latest technology in crop production and nutrients. They are currently experimenting with different types of growing media including organic coir made from coconuts. 

Roosevelt Academy students are also currently modeling research at the University of Florida by testing the benefits of producing crops under shade structures to extend the production season of crops. Roosevelt also uses no synthetic pesticides or herbicides and instead uses beneficial insects and organic soil.

Roosevelt students sell their products to a local, loyal customer base and also grow and donate vegetables and herbs for gardens at four schools in Lake Wales.

Roosevelt students have presented at Bok Tower’s Earth Day program and each year Cruze’s classes donate plants, mulch and landscaping materials to Lake Wales Care Center’s transitional housing program for women and children.

This is second major honor for Roosevelt Farms and Cruze in the last two years. In 2010, Cruze and Roosevelt Farms were honored by the Nutrients For Life Foundation and the Florida FFA, http://www.polk-fl.net/news/newsreleases/082510.htm.

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