BRISTOL - Three schools in one week got their own community gardens, thanks to a partnership between Public Works and the Board of Education on the “Bristol Gardens - A Work of Heart” program.
While students were on summer break, Public Works built raised gardens at Greene-Hills, Stafford, and Ivy Drive schools. The students from kindergarten through fifth grade began planting their gardens with vegetable and herbs during the first week of school, which the students and faculty will manage.
Students will have the opportunity to bring the garden items home to eat with their family in the fall and the gardens will be replanted with seasonal vegetables and flowers in the spring.
“We want all Bristol students to have the opportunity to get their hands dirty and grow their own food. Many students have gardens at home, which they can contribute their expertise about gardening during garden club. Some students don’t have a yard or may live in an apartment, so they do not have the opportunity to grow their own vegetables, until now!” said Lindsey Rivers, Public Works analyst.
The mission of “Bristol Gardens - A Work of Heart” is to encourage students to go outside and get their hands dirty by growing their very own garden each season. The idea is to promote hands-on learning experiences that complement the school curriculum.
“The joy and pride of a job well done was clear on the faces of all participants. With multiple entry points for learning and collaboration, these gardens will sustain our learners’ interests throughout the school year and beyond,” said Deputy Superintendent Michael Dietter.
At Greene-Hills, students planted lettuce, herbs, and garlic on the second day of the new school year, with help from Rivers; Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu; Principal Scott Gaudet; Sarah Larson, Parks and Recreation community outreach coordinator; Katie Hennessy, Parks and Recreation intern; and other Public Works staff.
At Stafford, students planted herbs and fall vegetables in their garden, which is part of a new outdoor learning classroom. A group of community partners volunteered their time and contributed resources over the summer to create the new outdoor space for learning.
In addition to building the garden bed, Public Works supplied soil, plants, a compost bin, watering hose, and rain barrel. Lowe’s Home Improvement stores awarded Stafford a grant which helped fund flexible outdoor seating, tools, and garden supplies.
Mizzy Construction donated materials and labor to pour the concrete pad of Stafford’s outdoor learning classroom. ESPN volunteers came to the school and painted sensory walk paths in two different areas of the playground.
“We are excited and eager to start using our outdoor learning classroom this year. We will also be starting a student gardening club where, with the support of Bristol Public Works department, we will be teaching children the benefits of gardening and composting, along with the delicious rewards when our vegetables and herbs mature,” said Stafford Principal Kristin Irvine.
At Ivy Drive, a Public Works team partnered with 26 ESPN employee volunteers to transform two courtyards into two gardens - a pollinating garden and a vegetable garden.
While the pollinating garden was being designed, milkweed was spotted growing in one of the flower beds and was then transplanted into the pollinating garden. All 10 eggs on the leaves hatched and Public Works will be documenting the evolution of a monarch butterfly with photos, along with the students from the Ivy Drive School Garden Club who will be caring for the caterpillars until they change into butterflies.
Public Works “worked tirelessly to provide our students with a beautiful space for ongoing outside learning opportunities. We are so appreciative of their efforts and look forward to watching our school community’s gardens flourish; supported by our ongoing partnership with them,” said Ivy Drive Principal Emily Gomes.
Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or email@example.com.