by Beverly Tuskan, The Mississipp Press
MOSS POINT, Mississippi — After traveling more than 100 miles in a former school bus powered partly by diesel and waste vegetable oil, theFarm on Wheels rolled into the driveway at the Pascagoula River Audubon Center late Saturday afternoon.
A small crowd welcomed an enthusiastic team of young graduates of the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science who took turns driving to the center, where they stopped for a short visit before hitting the road on a cross-country tour.
“We call ourselves the G6 team, short for the Green 6,” said member Sterling Harper of Gautier.
G6 members include Harper, Tyler Crutcher of Senatobia, Daniel Eisler of Ocean Springs, Bobby Glenn of Moss Point, Brian Chapman of Brandon and David Liang of Cleveland.
The conversion project and tour is a partnership between these young men; former Moss Point native Daniel Doyle, who is an organic farmer in Oxford; and the Gaining Ground Sustainability Institute of Mississippi.
Gaining Ground is a nonprofit group in Starkville that focuses on improving the quality of life through sustainable building, farming, recreation and conservation practices.
“They are the ones who gave us the startup funds to get this project started,” Harper said.
The cross-country tour is phase one of their project, and the bus will be tested out on the tour while raising funds and promoting awareness of sustainable living.
The team will be sleeping onboard the Farm on Wheels, in bunk beds that make up their living quarters.
“We will be going around to schools, and take children on there and show them the compost bins, worm bins and worm tea,” Harper said.
“We’ll show them actual crops we’ll have growing in there. We plan to have a foot and a half of soil in different plots, and growing blueberry bushes and miniature apple trees, that sort of thing,” he said.
Harper and Eisler say the team wants to teach schoolchildren about growing and raising their own food, and hopefully inspire the next generation to rethink their relationship with, and their obligation toward, the environment.
The funds raised in the first phase will go toward completing the sustainable Farm on Wheels, a project to include installing a greenhouse roof, a rainwater catchment system that will be used to irrigate the plants once the greenhouse roof is installed, and a chicken coop on board.
“We’re hoping to hit $12,000 to do all the conversions we need to do,” Harper said.
Eisler said they had a good trip coming down after leaving Oxford at 4 a.m. Saturday and stopping in Starkville.
“At about 10 o’clock, we found some grease and filled up one of our 50-gallon tanks and headed down this way about 11 o’clock and burned through that entire tank,” Eisler said.
The bus is still undergoing conversion and, after the tour, will eventually be a sustainable rolling greenhouse.
While on the tour, the G6 team will be blogging their journey. Follow their Farm on Wheels progress on Facebook.