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Donate items, time to help PCES garden grow

Renovations are underway at the Pike County Elementary School garden and students are in need of gently used gardening equipment, including shovels, rakes, wheelbarrows, buckets and storage sheds as well as plants native to Georgia. To donate funds or items for the garden, email or call 770-567-4444. Any groups needing community project hours are needed as well. ’Teaching kids how to grow vegetable gardens is an exciting and rewarding experience,’ said PCES teacher Mandi Wood who launched the project. ‘Many Pike students are familiar with growing their own food; however, some have yet to experience digging in the dirt to plant food that they would actually want to eat. Planning and research are big components of gardening. So far, we’ve researched which vegetables are easy to grow, have the least pests and about how to create our own rich soil by composting. Third grade students were excited to compost items collected by the class and hypothesize which of the items will break down the fastest. We also discussed how pollution and littering can affect our environments and the foods we eat. We will check each classes’ composted items in May.’ The project was started last year with funds from a Southern Rivers Energy grant for the PCES Georgia Native Garden/Outdoor Classroom, with the leadership of Wood and fellow teacher Julie Carter, also a SRE grant winner. Pike County High School teacher Greg Waits allowed landscape architecture students to create a plan to incorporate Georgia Native Plants into the garden with actual landscape plans and suggestions to use as a guide. The Wood family, including 5-year-old Mayson, worked with county and city workers to remove debris from the garden area. Timbers were recently donated by Home Depot for vegetable beds and borders. New raised vegetable beds were built in the garden, as well as a compost area for students to learn about how vegetation breaks down and can be used to help other plants grow. ’We will be planting an assortment of veggies to our beds soon and tasting our rewards this spring,’ said Wood. ‘Parents and community members can help by donating garden items such as mulch, dirt, shovels, rakes, wheelbarrows, etc. We would also love to incorporate birdhouses, a garden shed to house everything and picnic tables for seating. Donations of Georgia’s Native Perennials, fruits or veggie plants would be great too. By getting kids outside and gardening, teachable moments are endless! From looking for decomposers under rocks, to identifying seasonal plants, or even measuring rates of erosion and brainstorming ideas to prevent soil loss, a living lab is the perfect place to experience and learn about the world we live in.’

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