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Students plan, build, plant garden

May 26, 2016

Schalmont Middle School’s courtyard looks a little different these days.

Students in the Craft and the Environmental Club joined forces with the community and Schalmont staff to create a vegetable garden.

The project was sparked when the Environmental Club was looking for a way to recycle K-cups. The cups were used to start seedlings and the coffee grounds are being used as fertilizer. Once the seedlings were planted, the K-cup packages were used for crafts, including creating a 3-d flower painting that will be displayed in the school.

With help from advisors Lorinda Gandrow (Craft Club) and Elisa Pepe (Environmental Club), the students reached out to community members and staff for help with their project.

Bellevue Builders donated materials for the raised beds, and Schalmont Technology teacher Thom Borkowski cut the wood and set it up in "kits" for the students. Decker's Landscaping donated soil for the project. Charlie Ferrara, a Schalmont graduate and local contractor, donated his time and some tools last Thursday. Ron Winnie and Schalmont Buildings and Grounds Supervisor Joe Caldara also assisted the students in completing the garden boxes.

“We can’t thank everyone enough for all their support for this project,” Gandrow said.

The students themselves were involved in every step of the project, from building the boxes, filling them with soil, starting the seedlings and then transplanting them into the garden.

A ribbon cutting was held on Thursday, May 26 to officially dedicate the garden. It was attended by Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara (who helped plant the first seedling in the new garden bed) and Jodi Decker of Decker’s Landscaping, along with Superintendent Dr. Carol Pallas and Middle School Principal Linda Taylor.

The garden will include butternut squash, spaghetti squash, various sizes and types of pumpkins, kale, spinach, and possibly peas and beans. They are also planting some sunflowers for color.

The garden will be maintained by the students and parent and staff volunteers. When the vegetables are harvested in the fall, High School and Middle School Home and Careers instructors June Krone and Regina Hanson have agreed to make recipes featuring the bounty.

“I feel like this is the start of something bigger,” Taylor said.

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