Persell Produce Patch Open House Grows on Community

Blooming flowers and thriving plants filled the raised beds at Persell Middle School on Wednesday night as Persell Middle School students showed off their green thumbs.

From carrots and herbs to flowers and strawberries, the members of the Garden Club were eager to show off their growing produce and plant life at the Persell's Produce Patch Garden Open House.

Parents, community members and others were given a tour of the garden site and were given samples of the fresh radishes the students had grown.

Seedlings were also given out in honor of the event, as the club hoped to inspire others to join in the gardening fun.

Annika Putney, Persell Middle School teacher and gardening co-chair, said the students really enjoy the new garden and were proud to show off their hard work.

Putney said there are approximately 20 students involved in the garden club this year, but the hope is that the gardening facility and outdoor classroom space will be utilized by students in all different classes next year.

"The hope is that teachers will incorporate it into their curriculum next year," she said, adding the experience has been invigorating thus far. 

"Everything from our garden was started from seed except for the strawberries. We're very excited about this, and we're excited to see what happens with this in the next few years."

The garden came about due to grant funding and donations, and has led to enjoyable and enriching experiences for the students and teachers alike, Putney said.

Devyn Agett, teacher and gardening co-chair, said there are many other projects in the works.

She said the group hopes to be composting and utilizing rain barrels in the near future.

"Our goal is also to have every teacher include (the garden) in one lesson," Agett said. "We also want to make the mulched area into an outdoor learning area."

Students and their parents milled around the area, pointing out what they had helped plant.

The garden included strawberries, herbs, potatoes, tomatoes and other varieties.

Putney said volunteers are needed to help maintain the garden over the summer months when the gardens are open. The produce patch will be open on Mondays from 4-7 p.m. and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon during the summer.

Volunteers are needed to help pull weeds, replant seeds and harvest fruits and vegetables, she added. Those who volunteer will also be welcome to take something home at the end of the day, Putney said.

For more information on the garden, visit Facebook.com/PersellSchoolGarden.

Grants were given by Lowe's Toolbox For Education and the Whole Kids Foundation.

Community and business sponsors for the project are Everyday's True Value; Mike's Nursery; Brigiotta's; Jamestown Police Department; Chautauqua County Health Network; Wegmans; Farm Fresh; Chipotle; High Mowing Organic Seeds; Peaceful Valley Seeds; Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co.; and the Persell PTA. There were also many individual donors who contributed to the project.