School garden blossoms into reality

“It started out as just kind of a dream of mine, and as the idea solidified, it never really occurred to me that anything might actually stop me from creating a school garden,” junior Carrie Herrman said. After pairing up with fellow junior Erick Estrada and contacting Sue DeBlieck, a co-founder of the program AgCulture which encourages youth to start gardens and get involved in their community, Herrman’s unlikely dream transitioned into reality. With the support of DeBlieck and science teacher Michael Todd, students began to take interest in the importance of fresh produce and sustainable organic farming. “So much of the food we eat today and many of the vegetables we purchase have added ‘ingredients’ or chemicals that are bad for us. Adding fresh, organic produce into our diets can help sustain our bodies and allow us to live longer and healthier lives,” Herrman said. “In addition, run-off from pesticides pollutes our water, kills populations of species, and harms entire ecosystems, not to mention how bad these chemicals are for humans. By jumping on this organic farming wave, we can help feed people great food with little-to-no environmental impact.” Students involved with the school garden hope to use the 45 feet by 45 feet plot of land located on the North side of the high school to yield organic produce such as lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and herbs. Out of all of the harvested crops, 50 percent will be sold in order to cover the cost of the garden with remaining profits going to SHEPH (Students Helping to Eliminate Poverty and Hunger), 25 percent will go to local food pantries, and the final 25 percent will be given to students and their families. Besides using the school garden to generate fresh, healthy crops, it will also be used to educate students outside of the traditional classroom setting. “Several teachers thought that the garden would help relate topics from biology and environmental science to students,” Todd said. “Gardening also connects students to the land by allowing them to see where their food comes from. Many people find it interesting as a hobby or career.” A garden committee, along with SHEPH members, plan to keep up the garden. Any additional students who are drawn to the idea of organic gardening, however, are invited to attend the weekly meetings in Todd’s room (room 49) on Wednesdays after school. “There is no requirement to have any previous knowledge about gardening to come to a meeting. We are always looking to hear what other people think about the garden,” Estrada said. Stay tuned to the announcements to hear more about the particular times and days the students involved with the school garden will meet. The amount of time a student wants to spend working on the school garden is up to them, therefore it is not mandatory to attend all meetings or stay for the entirety of a meeting. “We understand that students have busy lives, but if you can meet with us or help out on our work days, we would love any time you could spare us,” Herrman said. “We just hope that people will fall in love with the school garden like we did.”