Little River Gets Back to Its Roots
Little River Elementary School continues its garden project through the winter months.
School gardens are a tradition in many schools; the American school garden movement began in the 1890s. Some saw gardens as a direct route to improving dietary and health practices; other gardening proponents saw school gardens as a means to instill character and values and as a means to recapture an older, producer ethic with roots in America's past. Some educators saw gardens as a place to teach science or to provide more vocationally oriented training. Other educators saw gardens as a way to support a variety of academic subjects.
Little River Elementary School has begun its own School Garden project this year, with enthusiasm and the dedication of many teachers and parents.
Over the summer, two 2nd grade teachers and two parents spent 50 classroom hours to become Master Gardeners. Teachers Laura Johnson and Nancy Joyner, along with PTA Green Team leader Karen LaFlamme and parent Vince Caputo completed the course sponsored by Cherokee County Extension Services office. They will also need to complete 50 volunteer hours this year to fulfill the commitment for their certification. The team then worked most of July preparing plans and submitting them to the district office for approval.
Once approval was received, the team along with many volunteers from the school and community rolled up their sleeves, picked up their shovels and got to work.
The Master Garden Team’s first step was to establish a Children’s Garden area just outside of the lunchroom. They began cultivating the area which now includes raised beds and a sensory garden.
To raise money for the project, the Garden Team sponsored a “Pennies for Plants” fundraiser at the start of the school year. Each classroom at the school has a parent “Garden Rep” to help coordinate the fundraiser as well as volunteer help in the garden. Students were encouraged to bring in excess change from home to be donated for the project. Everyone rallied and the final tally of coins donated to the garden topped $1,600.
Local businesses also helped the school project, donating both materials and labor to the school garden. Twin Branch Nursery donated plants and pots to the project. Premiere Landscaping provided mulch and labor assistance. Ambius also donated pots to the garden area. Kelli Green Nursery provided the violas and Mountain Valley Farm donated lambs ear plants.
Mario DaSilva, owner of Cherokee Stone Center and the dad of a kindergartener at the school, was asked to help out with the sensory garden.
“We provided the materials and labor for stone raised beds,” he said.
The winter months have not slowed down the garden’s plans. There will be new gardens and an expansion to the existing area this spring, and the committee is busy making those plans.
“We will be adding other gardens to the current one,” Johnson said. “We are also planning a literature-based garden on a very popular book series.”
The book series has yet to be revealed. The school’s Boy Scout Troop will be working with the garden team on this secret project.
“We have only given the scout master the plan so that he can help us out. We are not telling yet,” Johnson said.
Anyone looking to help out the project can reach Johnson or Joyner at the school or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The garden committee does have a wish list of needed materials for possible donation ideas: rakes, shovels, spades, hoes, garden gloves, kid sized garden tools and gloves, bagged compost or topsoil and gift cards to Home Depot or Lowes.