The weather in Darien was beautiful Thursday—perfect for spending the morning in the garden.
School counselor Helen Park, who coordinated the project, said the plots will serve as a space where students not only learn about gardening but also feel ownership for their work.
“I overheard some kids say, ‘It’s going to be a really great day,’” Park said. “All these months of preparation have come together and everyone’s enjoying themselves and having a lot of fun.”
Two groups of students each spent an hour weeding, planting flowers and herbs, and spreading mulch on the plots tucked into a quarter-acre corner behind the school.
The students also decorated the circular beds with mosaic paver stones featuring snails and butterflies that they created in art class.
Master Gardener’s from the University of Illinois Extension and members of the Darien Garden Club volunteered to help prepare the plots and teach the children how to tend them.
All of the school’s students will eventually help care for the garden, with the younger students weeding and watering the plants.
In the spirit of community gardening, many local businesses and organizations donated to Concord’s effort. Hinsdale Nursery donated about 80 percent of the plants on Concord’s wishlist, while Home Depot offered a $100 gift card. Tamelings supplied the mulch and stone steppers, and True Value provided garden tools. The Gift of Carl Foundation also donated some items.
Concord parent Jeanne Lombardo, a former landscaper, sketched out the garden plots and even tilled the earth in the rain, Park said. A Girl Scout troop weeded, and an area Boy Scout troop is scheduled to do a service project with the garden, too.
“It’s amazing how everything came together,” Park said. “The kids see that collective effort from the community. It will not just beautify our grounds, but it’s there so everyone can enjoy it.”
And the kids most certainly were enjoying themselves as they dug into the earth, separated roots and patted down soil around their new plantings.
“I love getting dirty,” said fourth-grader Tess. “We love worms.”
Pretty much all the kids could agree on that, and several proselytized on the benefits of earthworms.
“Worms help the plants,” said Lombardo’s daughter and Tess’ friend, Mia. “Who doesn’t love beautiful plants?”
Kaleb offered some advice on successfully rooting flowers.
“If you’re planting, one should tickle the dirt from the roots so they spread,” he said while demonstrating how to free the roots from the way they clump in plastic seedling pots.
Lombardo said it was thrilling to see how excited the kids got in the garden.
“From my background (as a landscaper), I take gardening for granted,” she said. “To see kids who’ve never done it before, and they get so excited—that’s good.”
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