Community garden flourishes under the care of Edison Middle School students

Photo by Michael Erb Edison Middle School eighth-graders Chase VanMeter, left, and Hunter Hutson, right, inspect the progress of squash plants Thursday at the school’s Community Garden.

PARKERSBURG — A community garden tended by students at Edison Middle School is expected to produce a bumper crop this year, enough to distribute vegetables to hundreds of area families.

Students at the school have been working to establish a community garden for nearly two years as part of the school’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics program, or STEM.

The gardening STEM class is taught during the last period of the day to allow students to go outside and work on the garden, said teacher Leila Marlow. The seedlings, soil, planters and other landscaping were purchased through a STEM supplemental grant.

The school’s Local School Improvement Council provided a grant to purchase a greenhouse which also has been installed on the property. Maintenance workers at the school ran gas, water and power lines down to the greenhouse, which can be used as storage and to grow new seedlings.

“We want the kids to be able to plant their own seeds,” said community volunteer Dave Windland, who has helped with the project since the beginning. Windland has a son who attends Edison and is a former Edison student.

Photo by Michael Erb The community garden at Edison Middle School includes multiple planter boxes and a greenhouse which has heat, electricity and water so students can work during the fall and winter months to grow seedlings to plant next year.

Eighth-grader Ethan Hall said the hardest part of the project was the planter boxes, which had to be carried down from the school to the fenced-in garden and assembled. Eighth-grader Hunter Hutson said one of his favorite parts of the project was also one of the more challenging.

“Putting down all the rocks” around the planters, he said. “You had to move everything around, get it where you wanted, and then put all the rocks around them. It turned out pretty nice.”

“My favorite part has just been watching everything grow,” said eighth-grader Chase VanMeter.

Hunter Midcap, who this fall will be a ninth-grader at Parkersburg South High School, said he has been working on the garden for several years and hopes to periodically return to Edison to help.

“We had this idea of a community garden when I was in seventh grade,” Midcap said. “Since we got everything put in, we’ve been working here several times a week.”

Photo by Michael Erb Edison Middle School eighth-grader Ethan Hall, left, and Parkersburg South High School ninth-grader Hunter Midcap, right, pull onions Thursday at Edison’s Community Garden. The garden is part of a science, technology, engineering and mathematics program at the school.

Students planted hundreds of plants representing more than a dozen kinds of vegetables, and so far the crop has come in better than expected. Students already are planning to harvest cauliflower, broccoli, squash, asparagus, corn, beets, carrots, spinach, lettuce, radishes and other vegetables in the coming months.

The produce will be distributed to families in need, and school officials believe they could potentially reach 200 or more area families.

“We thought it would be a fun project and a way to help people out,” Hutson said.

The class also plans to plant and grow mums to sell as a fundraiser for the garden program.

Marlow said about 15-20 students worked diligently on the project, but hundreds of students had a hand in putting together and tending the community garden.

Photo by Michael Erb Edison Middle School students have planted hundreds of seedlings representing more than a dozen kinds of vegetables, and so far the crop has come in better than expected. Officials hope to distribute the produce to area families in need.

“It’s been great seeing how excited they are about this,” Marlow said. “They want to be out here.”


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