Washington Garden Club Creates a Flourishing School Garden

The Mental Health Association in Chautauqua County (MHA) is participating in Give 716, a fundraiser presented by the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres foundations next Thursday and Friday, July 15 and 16. This picture of MHA staff with the van they received from UPMC Chautauqua is on the Give716.org website.

Washington Middle School students have created a flourishing school garden. Teacher, Lori Messina, was given the Garden Club a few years ago and thought it would be great to get her students, and other classes involved too. The classes spent a great deal of time revitalizing and rebuilding the school garden. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen events like school construction and COVID-19, the garden was unable to be cared for. This year, Janet Forbes reached out to Mrs. Messina and asked if she would start the Garden Club again.

“As we talked I remember all the beautiful and amazing things the garden brings to the kids and the kids bring to the garden,” said Mrs. Messina. “And how it brings all of us together. So we got started. It is always nice to watch the kids work in the garden and then experience the reward of fresh produce. The kids often see how the skills they use in the classroom can be useful in the real world/garden such as math and reading, as well hand-on skills.”

The students weeded, put down fresh dirt, grew plants from seeds, planted seedlings, mulched, watered and then began to paint and add designs for the wooden flowers and fencing with the help of technology teacher, Andrew Pihblad, and ENL teacher Cindy Spirit. Students also created the compost bins to help reduce waste at school and produce rich soil for the garden. They plan to expand on this project next school year. Clearwater Creek Compost by Sarah Moller helped support their efforts by demonstrating, speaking with students and letting them practice composting.

The gardeners would like to thank their community – Audubon Community Nature Center, 7-11 and all their friends in the community for donating plants, mulch, and their time to help the students get the garden “blooming” again.