Local businesses and individuals volunteer with High Point Elementary School to develop garden
St. Petersburg College Sustainability Club members, Dynamet, Inc. and Gateway Organic Farm have partnered 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 covers 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 serves as the base layer; a mixture of manure, compost, hay and soil was then layered on top of the cardboard. The actual ground is not tilled as with conventional gardens.
Robert Segundo, a certified permaculture designer, has volunteered his time and expertise to oversee the project.
“Most children have no idea where their food comes from, and this is a great way for them to find out,” said Segundo. “These techniques 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, oversees the garden project that K-5 students have recently begun to tend.
“Our children spend the majority of their time inside classrooms and homes,” McClelland said. “Our garden is a long-range, sustainable project that engages students in hands-on, inquiry-driven activities which I believe boost core subject skills as well as nutrition. One of High Point’s goals is to promote parent and community involvement, and over the long run, 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.”
To volunteer, please contact Nancy McClelland at firstname.lastname@example.org.