Purposeful Gardeningby Tim Bentley on Dec. 10, 2010, under Off Topic
Shayana was bound and determined she was not going to have any fun, besides how much fun could gardening be anyway? It’s boring, nothing grows very fast and there is always lots of raking. But that all changed for the Santa Rita High School freshman the moment she pulled the bright red radishes from the garden she helped plant a few months ago. Her smile and laughter along with other members of the Eagles’ class told the story – gardening is fun!
St. Augustine Catholic High School is partnering with the Santa Rita High School’s Community Outreach Program by hosting the Going Green & Beautification Project. Five students are learning vital independent living skills every Thursday at St. Augustine through the implementation of a vegetable garden. In addition, they perform other tasks such as taking public transportation to St. Augustine, constructing garden beds and harvesting their vegetables. The Project began in September and will end in April 2011.
The five students, known as the Santa Rita Community Eagles, enjoyed the first harvest of their collective efforts on Thursday with a bountiful supply of radishes and lettuce. The children were excited to make salads with their families, another skill they have learned while in the program. The Going Green & Beautification Project was conceived and developed by Emily Montgomery, one of three teachers at Santa Rita focusing on Community Based Instruction. Along with Robin Patze, she works with the 14 – 19 year olds each week on the SACHS campus on specific gardening projects. From maintaining a compost pile, to cultivating and harvesting various vegetables, Ms. Montgomery intends to provide the children with important skills as they transition to independent living. “It’s important they not only have those skills, but the confidence to do things for themselves that we are teaching in this program,” Ms. Montgomery said.
Cal Montgomery, the Facilities Director at St. Augustine probably has as much fun as the kids during the sessions as evidenced by his ear-to-ear grin. Along with giving the children rides in the tractor, he enjoys sharing his gardening knowledge with the children while helping them gain vital skills. And even though he may be a St. Augustine Wolf, Mr. Montgomery could think of nothing better than helping these Eagles spread their wings and soar.