This past semester I worked with a couple students, Ashley, Jane, and Lyra, and a faculty member, Eleanor Tison to put together a Nature Cub at the elementary school. While they did many great things with the kids (composting, geology education, etc.), the greatest thing, in my opinion, was the completion of the Community Garden!
The Debbie Keezer Memorial Garden is a tribute to this past year's associate principal who passed away mid-May. She was an amazing educator; innovative, intelligent, dedicated, creative, energetic, kind, funny (to name very few of the great qualities that have attributed to her being one of the most inspiring educators I've met in Poultney). The garden is one of many ways that the community will remember Debbie.
The photo to the left is a special bed dedicated to Debbie called, "The Rainbow Flower Garden". The kids planted boatloads of flowers in the shape of a rainbow. If you look above the rainbow you will notice white "clouds" and to top things off a sunflower was placed in the upper-left corner. Yeah, it's pretty much the cutest thing ever.
The idea behind the garden is to create a community gathering space where people can share in good, fresh food and veggies! Since this is the last week of school, yesterday we had the end of the year garden celebration. Parents came to help out and join in on the fun. There is going to be a few more community workdays over the summer and the club leaders also plan on using the garden as part of some Summer Rec. Programs they're running through the town. So, even though the little ones won't be in school, the garden will get plenty of love and care.
To the right is the left side of the garden: handmade sumac tomato cages, bean trellises, a pickle garden with cucumbers and dill, and some sticks that have been collected for the entrance archway. Ashley and Eleanor have been hard at work on making sure no detail is overlooked.
In addition to all the great things that are growing, they have put a table in the middle of the garden space that they plan to paint wacky colors to encourage hearty picnicking . Also, a space has been dug-up to install a sandbox for the little ones to enjoy while they're parents are hard at work tending to weeds and harvesting. To help keep the weeds down we have been spreading carloads of wood chips that will also help to level the ground.One of the coolest projects going on the garden is the Native American Garden. This is a class project that one of the elementary school teachers is working on. It consists of corn, beans, and squash planted in little clusters that are surrounded by big stones. Very creative and educational! This garden has surely been fantastic on many levels; it brings the community together by providing a communal space for people to work and gather, it has been a great educational outlet for the elementary school educators, and has also given Green Mountain College the opportunity to use the knowledge gained from our unique environmental focus to bring us closer to the community. Local food issues are the GMC "hot topic" right now so this is a perfect project for campus-members to focus their energies on.
The garden is sure to see many changes over the course of the summer. I'll post more pictures as things progress. Cheers to good, yummy, locally loved food!