Growing Edge Gardens @ GMS project -- Spring 2022 update
Second year. On Monday afternoon, March 21, 2022, Dorothea Sotiros a volunteer from Nolembeka met with the student gardener enthusiasts and presented a detailed explanation of the benefits of pollinators. Everyone then went out into the fresh air and began the work. They cleared a spot on the northwest edge of campus to plant a pollinator hedge. First they laid cardboard, called "sheet mulching," to block the weeds; then they laid a layer of compost and topsoil and finally planted the seeds known to attract pollinators, chosen for their color, time of year to expect them to bloom and finally color. The seeds included butterfly weed, showy goldenrod white aster, lupines, dotted mint and golden alexander.
This plot along with a fine new hedgerow will form a tasty boundary and lure for pollinators between the school property and the church grounds next door, with flowers blooming from spring through the summer into the fall.
The following week they returned to the raised beds on the south side of the GMS school building to ready the beds for planting. One raised bed has blueberry and strawberry plants coming back healthfully and producing fruit. Another bed is dedicated to garlic and onions with marigolds on the perimeter to limit bugs. Two beds have culinary herbs like thyme, sage, oregano and rosemary, along with lettuce, spinach, arugula, peas, radishes, chives and a few carrots. The fifth bed is half rainbow potatoes - a new crop for GMS which will be fun to harvest in the fall - and one of our favorites from last year, husk cherries, also known as ground cherries. These small yellow fruits come in a lantern-like papery exterior and are high in vitamin C. Students love them!
Ms. Deborah Bazar worked with the young gardeners one afternoon making paving stones. Students rolled and pounded out the clay, then collected a variety of nuts, leaves, twigs and using these along with some interesting tools to press and scroll their unique designs into the clay. These clay slabs were kiln fired and the finished products placed around the pollinator gardens along the front of the school.
And, not to be forgotten. . .
. . .during the long cold winter days inside, a massive reorganization was done to better use the greenhouse that GMS has.
New shelving was purchased and the students planted seeds collected from their outdoor gardens in the fall. A whole-school nasturtium project was also carried out where nasturtium plants were raised, one per 350 students, to be given as gifts in May.
To spread their love of gardening, the young Growing Edgers visited Leyden Woods the with dozens of donated plants to share. According to Ms. Jayme,
coordinator of Growing Edge, "Tons of people were really excited and the director was happy to have us there. We gave away over 50 plants and folks were really happy. . . mostly to plant in front of their apartments and not necessarily much up the hill at the community garden spots but hey, we gotta start somewhere and personal gardens are awesome too."
And. . . a new addition this year was the planting of an American Hornbeam tree.
In memory of Ms. Sue Adams, a long-time and beloved teacher assistant at GMS, who passed away this past year, Growing Edge students dug the hole and planted an American Hornbeam tree in Ms. Adams' honor.
A small ceremony with Ms. Adams' family present was followed by each member of the family adding a shovel of dirt into the hole with the tree, with each of the students doing the same; the students then watered and lay a protective "volcano-like" ring of mulch around its base.
The young gardeners finished the year with a visit to the Nolumbeka (Wissatinnewag) Three Sisters Garden, where they learned that corn, beans and squash make a wonderfully interactive trio, helping each other thrive in a single space using each plant's unique qualities. First they listened to an explanation about how this works, then dug in.
This has been a truly bountiful year! A huge thank you goes to Ms. Jayme Winell, guide to all these young gardeners, for such energy, hard work, patience and enthusiasm.
Gardens @ GMS project has begun.
First year. On Friday afternoon, November 6, 2020, Jayme Winell, English Language Learner (ELL)Teacher and new Garden Club coordinator at GMS, gathered a dozen or so students, a couple teachers, parent with special 5-year-old participant, a couple GG volunteers and, special volunteer, principal Lynn Dole, to kick off a project aimed to create a more pollinator-friendly environment on the school grounds.
Everyone worked together to take the first step in the plan. Two previously developed raised beds on the north side of the GMS building were raked clear of leaves, measured out and planted with garlic and herbs. Several of the students also cleared the area on the front side of the building to plant tulips around the brick Greenfield Middle School sign. The students were very enthusiastic and hard workers. Each were provided plants to take home to nurture and grow on their own.
Gardens @ GMS is looking to YOU for ideas, input and inspirations. We have a small amount of funding to put towards plants and infrastructure. What should we do? Bring your ideas and join us!
The beds were cleared of leaves and debris. . . charted out for planting . . .
Planted with 75 garlic cloves (that will turn into garlic plants), 2 oregano plants, 1 sage plant and 1 thyme plant. . .
. . . covered with straw
. . . and, Voila! ready to withstand the cold winter months!
Around the school marquee in the front of the building:
30 purple and 30 yellow tulips were also planted.
At the end of the afternoon, each student took home:
1 mint plant
A small cup with Mother of Millions (several little plants in each)
1 Pothos plant (the dangly one)
Ms. Winell's expressed her enthusiasm and exhileration to her students the following day: "Really, yesterday made my heart sing in so many ways and I was so IMPRESSED with all of you students. I cannot wait to see what we will dream up next.“
And then came Summer!
Harvest included many herbs, husk cherries by the fistful, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, watermelons. . . and more!!!!!
And by October, everyone was gathering weekly once again to create new planting journals, to harvest, clear and plant.