During the current 2016-17 school year the i3 Green Club has been trying to rehabilitate the i3 Garden. Mrs. Courtney VandeBunte was able to win the Motorola Grant to help fix up the broken aspects of the garden, but she wasn’t able to do it on her own. Through the process of searching for help, Mrs. VandeBunte reached out to FPC’s woodshop teacher Mr. Phil Huckabee, Dog Day Gardens, Green Flex and TEO Solar. All these connections have made it possible to get the garden into a working order and be able to grow healthy plants.
$5000 was awarded to Mrs. VandeBunte from the the Motorola Solutions grant, with that she was able to get the overhead irrigation fixed, a new shed, pavers for the floor of the shed, and seedlings for the new garden. She gave $1600 to a local greenhouse that is in the process of being built and paid for workshops for students to help better their knowledge on gardening. The Motorola Solutions is a STEM grant, which focuses on encouraging students to study a career in the STEM field and help boost the local economy.
The year started off with the i3 Green Club and students from Mrs. VandeBunte’s Environmental Science class assessing how overgrown the garden had become during summer break. The assessment created a list of tasks they need to get done by the end of the school year. They started by weeding the garden, picking up all the trash, and figuring out what tools weren’t needed. From the previous occupants there was a section built to hold geese, which wasn’t on the group’s agenda, so all the old materials were ripped out.
After cleaning out the garden, Mrs. VandeBunte requested the help of Mr. Huckabee, FPC’s Woodshop teacher, to build raised planters with designs made by i3 students, Brianna Bunting and Elora Haynes. The design is three long rectangles with three octagons aligned with the rectangles. The beds are raised because it is easier to keep the planters weeded and there is less work setting up the garden without removing the rocks that are covering the whole garden floor.
Mrs. VandeBunte ordered a shed and pavers for the floor of the shed. Before the shed could be built the pavers had to be placed and leveled. This task was put into the hands of Mrs. VandeBunte’s Environmental Science class and the i3 Green Club. Once the pavers were in place, Mr. Huckabee came back with his building and construction classes to help put together the shed. It took three days with three different class periods participating to complete the shed.
Once the shed was complete, the i3 Green Club and Mrs. VandeBunte’s Environmental Science class was able to clean up and get prepared for the two workshops that were planned to help start off the garden.
On February 16th, the two workshops were held at the i3 Garden where Mrs. VandeBunte’s Environmental Science class and Dr. Ellen Asher’s second grade class learned about how solar power works and the importance of composting. Mr. Bill Garity was from TEO Solar and came to talk about solar power and how it helps the environment. Mrs. Shelby Stec from Dog Day Gardens also came out to help set up the garden beds and teach the students about composting.
Mr. Bill Garity came prepared with his own solar powered oven that he made himself and his unique car that also has solar powered elements. The 1970’s Volkswagen Bus had the microwave and mini fridge powered by the stored solar power. Mr. Garity traveled around the country to nearly all the states in 88 days. He brought his solar powered oven with him and it was able to reach over 400 degrees Fahrenheit. They also borrowed 3 solar ovens from FPC, which only reach between 250 degrees to 350 degrees. The classes cooked brownies and pizza bagel bites throughout the day.
Between the two workshops Dr. Asher’s second graders gave a presentation about the importance of using solar power. Solar Power should be used more often to help reduce the amount of carbon emissions that other resources can produce.
Mrs. Shelby Stec from Dog Day Gardens talked about how the compost is made up of microorganisms and the students that were leveling out the compost in the beds should do so carefully and be cautious not to step in it.
“Healthy compost should be light and fluffy,” stated Mrs. Stec.
Mrs.VandeBunte explained further, “This is to allow for microorganisms to build “highways” and “roads” that ensure the growing plants get everything they need.”
All the collaboration between everyone in the community has been put into the new i3 Garden and will be put to good use by producing food to give back to the community.