Tucker Students Get Out of the Classroom and Into the Garden
It’s a sunny Tuesday afternoon and Sophie Johnson and her friends are making the most of it. Grabbing a notepad, the second-grader sketches some hostas she’s planted in the courtyard of Brockett Elementary School. Classmates run around her, filling up watering cans from a nearby rain barrel and searching for creepy-crawlies in the soil. As Sophie looks up from her paper, squinting into the sun, a smile appears across her face. She’s outdoors and she’s loving it.
“Some of these kids have never played in the dirt,” says Brockett parent Crystal O’Neal. “They start digging and they find slugs, worms, roly polys. They’re so excited, so happy.”
O’Neal and fellow mom Kimberly Adkins became friends through Brockett. They would grow bored after school while waiting for their kids to finish Mathletes and, instead of waiting inside a classroom, they eventually found themselves waiting outside in the courtyard. One thing led to another and soon, rather than waiting, they were pulling weeds. Weeding turned to dreaming and dreaming turned to planning. Before long, the pair had a vision for a community garden within the courtyard, but they knew they would need some help.
Thus, was born the Brockett Elementary Garden Club.
“We have about 25 students Kindergarten through second grade,” Adkins explains. “We meet every Tuesday for an hour after school. We’ve planted nine beds with everything from tomatoes to herbs and we just planted some squash seeds.”
While the kids are doing the work, it’s parental involvement that is driving this effort. Adkins estimates more than a dozen moms, dads, grandparents and community members have given their time to help the Garden Club make amazing progress in just a short time.
“Here at Brockett, parental involvement is key,” says Principal Antoinette Seabrook. “When Mrs. O’Neal came to us with the idea of doing a Garden Club, we were so excited. It was something that we wanted for our students but weren’t sure how we could make it happen. We have awesome parents that make our school a wonderful place for our children.”
Brockett isn’t alone in creating an on-campus garden. Livsey Elementary has an aquaponic garden that is used by fourth grade science students to learn about plant reproduction and growth. Smoke Rise Elementary has several unique gardens that the students utilize throughout the year: the Jaguar Garden, which is a traditional soil garden, and three aeroponic and aquaponic gardens. Tucker Middle has an expansive hydroponic garden in its courtyard, while Tucker High has its own aquaponic greenhouse, a facility built by STEM students and community partners.
These gardens are nice assets for the school campuses and good teaching tools for the faculty, but students like Sophie have their own reasons for enjoying the outdoor work.
“I like making things and helping plants grow,” she says. “I want to help people who don’t have food to have food.”
With continued hard work by Brockett’s Garden Club, Sophie’s dream could soon become a reality.