Written by Katie Harris, AmeriCorps Member serving at Merrydale Elementary School

Who knew a simple school garden could produce so many great things? Thanks to the tireless dedication and agricultural brilliance of AmeriCorps members like Tyler Aitken and Abigail Long, we now have a place where plants and students thrive. It is a place where students find purpose. Where AmeriCorps members encourage students to push themselves and try new things. Where a group of students work together and accomplish great things.

There is so much to be gained at this simple garden and none of it could have been possible without the two service warriors mentioned earlier. In the beginning of the year the garden was a shambles, in need of a lot of TLC. Aitken and Long decided to give it a full overhaul. Using their own time on the weekends, they broke down all of the decrepit garden beds and built new ones. They gave every bed a fresh coat of blue and yellow paint, our school colors. They bought tons of supplies like soil, seeds, and gardening tools. They even created a club especially for those students passionate about gardening, with the hopes of educating them about healthy eating.

They transformed our garden into an oasis. In fact, many of our AmeriCorps members use the garden as a way to change bad behavior. There is something about inviting a student to work with their own two hands, outside in beautiful nature, with a fun team of people that can change their attitude. It is a beautiful thing to see. I’ve witnessed one of my most easily aggravated and aggressive students turn into the sweetest kid. Once he was blowing up in class at every little thing, now he is open to holding his temper and laughing off his mistakes. It is a blessing and it is all due to the quality time I get to spend with him at the garden.

So, yes, who knew a simple school garden could produce so many great things? Well, now we do and we will continue to utilize this blessing to further enhance the lives of our students.

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