St. Petersburg College partners with High Point Elementary to develop garden
Sustainability Club members at St. Petersburg College will partner with High Point Elementary School students, teachers and a gardening expert to develop a garden which will have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems.
The garden is located on the High Point Elementary School grounds at 5921 150th Avenue North. It initially will cover about 1,700 square feet, but may be enlarged later.
The philosophy behind so-called “permaculture gardens” is one of working with, rather than against, nature. The word stems from two words – permanent and agriculture.
In the case of the High Point garden, cardboard provided by SPC will serve as the base layer; a mixture of manure, compost, hay and soil will then be layered on top of the cardboard. The actual ground will not be tilled as it is with conventional gardens.
Sustainability Club members from various SPC campuses will provide the labor to prepare the land for the garden on June 8 at 9:30 a.m.
Robert Segundo, a certified permaculture designer, will volunteer his time to oversee the project.
“Most children have no idea where their food comes from, and this will be a good way for them to find out,” said Segundo. “The techniques used will put them on the road to sustainable farming techniques, using less water, no fertilizers or pesticides and reaping five times the food.”
Nancy McClelland, a High Point primary teacher, will oversee the garden project that K-5 students will tend beginning in the next school year.
“Our children spend the majority of their time inside classrooms and homes,” McClelland said. “Our garden is a long-range, sustainable project that will engage students in hands-on, inquiry-driven activities which I believe will boost core subject skills as well as nutrition. One of High Point’s goals is to promote parent and community involvement, and that is what the garden will do.”
The project was initially envisioned by McClelland. She approached Jason Green, SPC’s sustainability coordinator, and they immediately began discussing the idea of partnering to develop a student-run garden.
“Both the participating environmental club members and I are very excited to work with High Point Elementary School on this project,” said Green. “The idea of designing gardens based on healthy relationships among human development, microclimate, plants, animals, soil, and water just makes sense.”
The garden will produce a variety of vegetables, fruits, perennials and annuals, all grown in an ecologically responsible fashion.
“Whether planting, observing, measuring, weighing, journaling, or harvesting, children will become connected to the earth,” McClelland said. “This empowers them and gives them a sense of achievement and ownership.”