Done In A Day - Hess School Project

The project began in response to the Hesse K-8 School’s commitment to initiate curriculum for student connections to plants and vegetables as a common food source, and a request for assistance from parents, The Landings Garden Club (LGC) took up the challenge. The “Done in A Day” Committee set out to re-vitalize an abandoned garden on the Hesse School grounds to help the school meet their commitment.  A plan was developed to create a wildlife habitat within the garden area that includes a pollinator garden, a butterfly garden and a vegetable garden. The goal is to provide students and teachers with an outdoor classroom where students learn about growing a wide variety of plants in a hands-on manner.  It is also our goal to have this garden area certified as a wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation.  The Co-Chair's Tina Zipperer and Maddie Harwood presented their plan to the Plant America program of the National Garden Clubs, Inc. and they awarded The Landings Garden Club a $1,000 grant to continue the project.  
The project has been divided into several phases that coincide with the growing season of the chosen plants. The initial phase, completed in September 2019 was a pollinator garden plot in a highly visible courtyard on the school grounds. In late August, a surprise, generous donation of approximately 200 plants was received from Oelshigs Nursery, a multi-generation, family-owned, wholesale nursery in Savannah. The beds were not ready and soil amendments had to be made immediately so the plants could go in the ground within just a few days!  Thanks to the manpower donated by Zipperer & Co., a local landscaper, the sand that filled the bed was removed by wheelbarrow loads to be reused in other project areas, and then the topsoil was installed.  Committee Chair, Tina Zipperer, called on a few LGC members that could take the August heat to get the plants installed without losing any plants to the extremely hot temperatures and planted all 200 plants.  It took two days of hard, hot work to complete, but it has paid off and the garden has thrived from day one. To keep the garden watered during the hot August and September heat, the garden received an additional donation, as an existing sprinkler system was rehabilitated by Zipperer & Co., including a new controller. This first phase of the project, the new pollinator garden, was met with great enthusiasm from students and staff, who have already begun enjoying this space at lunch, break time, and class projects. The teachers are excited and immediately began creating lesson plans about vegetable gardening, bees and butterflies, as well as sustainability.
Our intention was never to maintain this area in perpetuity, but to turn it over to the school’s parents, teachers, and students. They have been so impressed by the instant garden and the plans for a certified wildlife habitat that we were able to generate enough interest to form a new garden club.  Our committee began efforts to transfer the upkeep of the garden to those at the school, and a new garden club, was organized. The Landings Garden Club will act as the Mentor Club for The Hesse K-8 Garden Club, which is now registered with The Garden Club of GA. Members of this new garden club have expressed a keen interest in involving their children (Hesse students) in the programs and projects they develop in the future. This is the first club The LGC has mentored and we look forward to helping them grow. It’s a fabulous garden for the school and the future programs that will evolve from it for the students are endless.
Additional plantings will continue as the seasons change, which may include spring plants, vegetables, fruit trees and wild flowers. The donation of all the pollinator plants in August shifted our focus to pollinators, instead of vegetable plants, but we’re planning to relocate most of the pollinator plants to other parts of the garden in late March and work with the teachers’ lesson plans to assist students in planting vegetables in the raised bed.  This winter with the help of volunteer carpenters, planting trays have been constructed to provide access to students in wheelchairs and allow them to be involved in the gardening curriculum.  With the creation of the new Hess K-8 Garden Club, member parents and teachers will take on general garden maintenance to include pruning and watering, with assistance from the LGC.  As the project progresses completion of the requirements for a certified wildlife habitat will be installed.
Our goal is to make this a model that other clubs can copy in their area.  Build a garden and start a parent/teacher/student club.  It's a fantastic way to introduce younger people to garden clubs and build membership.
Congratulations to everyone involved and special thanks to Tina Zipperer and Maddie Harwood for their vision to teach the importance of gardening to our children.

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