|Creativity, passion and education grow hand in hand at PTSA Garden Center|
|Written by Leanne Christensen, RSD|
|Monday, 13 June 2011 13:22|
In the spring of 2010 Stillwater PTSA members were working hard to make their dream of a school garden center into a reality.
They had chosen the ideal location on the school grounds and had the support and enthusiasm of teachers and Principal Amy Wright. With this support, Stillwater PTSA leader Serene Norris partnered with fellow PTSA parent and gardener extraordinaire, Stacy Walker, to create a detailed diagram that would help to illustrate their impassioned vision to the school district. Their time and planning proved to be a winning combination, as the district gave their approval 100 percent, and the Garden Center was begun.
The first order of business was in purchasing the lumber for the planting beds. "Two other parents, Holly Templeton and Theresa Sinzs, along with Stacy and myself got together and put the following plan in place," says Serene … "Phase one – build garden beds, phase two – greenhouse, phase three – garden club and gifting this center to the school. As the ball rapidly started to roll we had a work party over the summer."
She continues, "This team of volunteers and students come out and began to dig away the gravel and set in our five raised garden beds. After that was done the local Jr. Red Wolves, Cubs Red football team (8-10-year-old boys) fulfilled their community service hours by moving 11 yards of soil into the five raised garden beds."
The team raised donations for their garden by hosting a movie night at Kokopelli Gardens. The Gardens donated their space for all of the children to come and watch a movie. The evening was a huge success, not to mention fun for everyone involved.
In the fall of 2010 Serene applied for and received the Washington State PTA Applegate Grant in the amount of $500.
This money enabled the group to purchase hand tools, seeds, watering tools, a garbage can, brooms, child size garden gloves, and a picnic table for future classes to sit during their studies. She then applied for and received the Riverview Education Foundation’s Health and Wellness Grant Program, in the amount of $2,595, which would help to pay for the greenhouse. These grants along with Stillwater PTSA and their budget of $1,000 over a two year period, made the funding process complete.
Serene explains, "As you can imagine this project created quite a stir, and when people started seeing the momentum we started receiving donations such as pots, compost bins and a worm bin. We were very excited about these donations because it led us to the third phase, the Garden Club!"
This is where the expertise and passion of gardener Stacy Walker really came into play. Serene shared that there are people who enjoy gardening, and then there are people who live to garden, and Stacy Walker is one of those people.
Not only has Stacy walked each step of the way with Serene and the other PTSA volunteers throughout the planning process, she has also created an amazing curriculum for the Garden Club as well, and the students are already asking if they can participate in the program again next year.
Stacy donates her time each week to teach students, teaching them about the amazing things they can each do in their back yards.
At the 2011 Stillwater PTSA Volunteer Appreciation Ice Cream Social the Garden Club will be officially gifting the Garden Center to Stillwater teachers and staff on behalf of the Stillwater PTSA.