Persell Middle School's Community Garden is well on its way to providing an outdoor, hands-on experience to deliver life-long learning and enrichment in students' lives thanks to the generosity of the local community. The Persell Garden Club recently received a $3,000 Lowe's Toolbox for Education Grant and a $2,000 Whole Kids Foundation Grant from Whole Foods. These funds, in addition to the $600 advisors, Annika Putney and Devyn Agett, raised through a website and numerous donations from local businesses and organizations, will not only promote a healthier lifestyle but will also allow students the opportunity to work with community members, learn to nurture plants they have vested interest in, foster patience, and raise an awareness of nature. This project will be an opportunity for families to be engaged in their child's life in school.
"Many of our students have never had the chance to work in a garden or eat produce fresh from the earth. A school garden will give our population a chance to do this and hopefully instill an interest in healthy choices," said Mrs. Putney and Miss Agett. "The research also speaks for itself. Integrating a school garden into the school's curriculum has astounding effects on academic achievement, enthusiasm for school, critical thinking skills, and test scores. Plus, teaching our children the benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables will also have long term effects on their health and well-being."
Persell teachers, parents, Master Gardeners, community members, and Lowe's volunteers came together to build the garden. The garden includes: five raised beds, five herb and flower planters, and a shed. Next year, students will begin collecting rainwater in rain barrels to water the garden and learn how to compost scraps from the cafeteria, and they hope add raspberry/blueberry bushes. The Persell garden will be open two days per week this summer for students, staff, families and the local community to work.
"I joined the Garden Club because one day I was outside at the garden helping my teacher and realized I liked working in the garden," said Persell fifth Grader, Orlando McBride. "I wanted to join a club, so I joined Garden Club. I also hope to help my grandma who likes to garden."
"We are so grateful to all our donors but we have really created a special relationship with Lowe's of Warren and Kelsey Bromm who has been their project lead. We are so grateful to their help in getting the garden started at Persell," said Mrs. Putney and Miss Agett.
The garden will also include a teaching space with benches and tables. Mrs. Putney and Miss Agett plan to provide professional development workshops to help Persell teachers learn to incorporate the school garden into various curriculums.