On September 3, 2014, FoodCorps volunteers worked in the Burgess Peterson Academy garden. They will be helping work and improve the school garden over the next year. The garden is an extension to classroom learning and also is working to offer fresh garden items to the school’s cafeteria.
Georgia Organics applied to the FoodCorps organization to serve as host for their organization here in the State of Georgia. Through a 15-page application, Georgia Organics had to explain why Georgia needed the FoodCorps program. FoodCorps (https://foodcorps.org/) has worked successfully to connect farms and schools across the United States. “Georgia Organics had to compete with 17 other states,” said a representative from Georgia Organics.
Michele Rice, an avid volunteer for the Burgess Peterson Academy School garden, has worked around 300 hours per year improving and serving as a teacher to the students for the gardening program. As a master gardener, Michele gives of her time to invest in future generations.
One Georgia Organics representative made the comment, “Where are Home Economics classes anymore?” It makes one stop and meditate on the reality that our students have to depend on volunteers to teach everyday living necessities in today’s education curriculum compared to not so many years ago when Home Economics was a required course, especially for young ladies.
Not only herbs, vegetables, and fruits beautify the garden area, but chickens also occupy the area. A classroom is appointed to care for the chickens every week. The week a classroom has responsibility for the chickens, the students are given the opportunity to vote on the plight of the eggs. The Spanish teacher made name tags from old blinds Michele found on the side of the road. One side is the English name for the plant and the other side is in Spanish. All classes, including mathematics, are finding ways to incorporate the gardening experience into the classroom with creative projects.
Michele’s faithful assistant, Chike Ain, loves getting into the dirt with the students and helps coordinate the garden efforts. A physical education teacher for the school started the program several years ago before taking a teaching position in the Netherlands leaving Michele to continue the project. From there an orchard was designed at the back of the school which includes an outdoor classroom. A pawpaw tree, indigenous to the U.S., is right in the mix of fig trees and other assorted fruit trees. The students can now sing the old children’s song, “Pickin' up pawpaws and putt’em in your pocket,” and actually know what a pawpaw looks like (https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=0P-xESpk7Q0).
Another teacher from Burgess Peterson Academy applied for a WaterWise grant (www.grantsgardens.com/waterwise) and won, allowing for a rain water collection unit to be installed for the orchard. The school is truly on their way to becoming a sustainable school.
Representatives from the Captain Plant Foundation (http://captainplanetfoundation.org/), Laura Turner Seydel and Leesa Carter were on hand to give their support along with the host, Georgia Organics (http://georgiaorganics.org/about-us/). They have committed in working together for the success of the project.